SCHERERVILLE — It doesn’t have a downtown quite as distinguished as some of its surrounding communities.
As Schererville Town Manager Bob Volkmann said, the town needs a little more to “give it some identity.”
With the upcoming extension of Pennsy Greenway, that could be changing.
The trail will soon extend from Joliet Street to Main Street in Munster. Currently, it is split into three separate sections, running from Calumet City, Illinois, to Rohrman Park in Schererville.
Having the trail pass through the downtown corridor and providing connectivity between local neighborhoods will bring a “big boom” to an area that town officials have been working for years to develop, Volkmann said.
“It’s like building an identity from scratch. We want our downtown to be have more destination-type development with more professional offices,” Volkmann said. “We want people to come here specifically and not just drive by.”
About 20 years ago, the town purchased properties along Joliet Street to build the local Police Department, Courthouse and Town Hall. Since then, the town has continued to accumulate properties for further expansion.
Buying the land to develop has been essential in the town’s long-term goals, said Town Councilman Kevin Connelly.
“It’s an essential move that we need to take to get the end results that we need, that we want,” Connelly said. “We’ve had plenty of redevelopment if you look at Route (U.S.) 41. That’s pretty straight forward. I really want to see our downtown progress within the next four years.”
With the trial’s expansion, the hope is more excitement and interests will be generated in downtown Schererville, encouraging community members to relocate or develop their businesses and homes.
Volkmann added the town offers a Facade Improvement Program and several other funding options for potential projects along Joliet Street.
“There are businesses that we have all been to where we have said, ‘You know, this would be great in our downtown.’ Well, let’s bring those here,” Connelly said. “Financial incentives are in place. I don’t know how many people know about that. Businesses should take advantage of that … if they see other business improving their facades around them, hopefully that will generate some interests.”
The Pennsy Greenway extension project has been awarded and construction will begin soon, Volkmann said. The trail should be ready for use by this fall with the finishing touches being added by next spring.