Kouts hopes to grow, continue makeover

2012-03-04T00:00:00Z Kouts hopes to grow, continue makeoverBy Phil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

KOUTS | The town put on a prettier face in 2011, and the makeover is expected to continue this year.

"We finished up phase two of the downtown streetscape in 2011, which was a huge improvement with decorative lights, sidewalks and seating," said Tim Jones, Town Council president. "The intersection work at Ind. 8 and Ind. 49 was completed by the state, and a stoplight replaced the flashing red light."

Drazer Park got a new gazebo, the town replaced old playground equipment and added to it, and the parking was expanded, Jones said. New decorative welcome signs were placed at all four main entrances to the town, and several infrastructure improvements were made to update water, storm and sanitary sewer lines.

The building that houses the public works department got all new windows and doors and the furnaces were replaced, and the Fire Department added a truck to its fleet. The town's facade grant program helped half a dozen businesses make improvements to their exterior.

The council met recently with its department heads and various committees to develop a plan of attack for this year and also looking ahead for the next five years. Two of the major features of that plan are possible annexation and the addition of a downtown park.

"We want to look at the annexation plan and at the master plan to see how we can improve it or change it to try to be more proactive in enticing small industry or commercial businesses into Kouts by looking at what we have and what we can offer," Jones said.

The area the town is interested in adding is to the west and southwest of the current town borders, in keeping with the overall annexation plan. "I don't know if we can get it done, but at least we can get it started," Jones said.

In addition to seeking land for the downtown park, Jones said the council wants to do more to push the "country living" theme suggested by the county tourism bureau as a marketing tool. He said the council will look at using the facade grant program as a way to encourage businesses to make improvements that are "more country looking."

The coming year will see a continuing effort to upgrade the infrastructure as well as make more improvements to Drazer Park with more playground equipment and upgrading the restroom facilities.

Another goal for this year is to get more government grants to buy equipment for the police department, especially new radios and bulletproof vests.

"Things that cost money but people don't think about or realize you need to get revenue for them," he said.

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