Griffith stock

* GRIFFITH — The lack of parkland on the north end of town will soon come to an end with a park created there in response to residents' wishes, the Town Council said last week.

A public hearing for residential input on the use of $73,632 in Community Development Block Grant funds yielded no comments from the public.

Afterward, the council proposed and approved the use of this money to build a park at the north end of town.

This area has lacked a park of its own, and the council hopes the new Fireman's Park Playground will open to children by summer or fall.

"We hope to double that (money) through an Indiana Department of Natural Resources grant," council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd, said of the CDBG funds.

The park will be located in a grassy area by the north fire station, Ryfa said, adding that it will feature swings, slides and a few other basic items.

As is the current trend, the park will be given a rubberized surface.

"We recognize that, for years, residents north of Ridge Road felt distanced from the town," Ryfa said.

"We paved all the roads in that area and are now trying to improve the quality of life by building a new park for many of the younger families to enjoy."

Resident Theresa Rivas said she is happy her children will have a place nearby to play.

Park Board President Tim Diamond said the park has been a top priority.

In other business, the council also found a new business to inhabit the site of Family Video, which is closing its doors at 1208-1216 45th Ave.

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Moving into the building will be Family Express, after the council rezoned the land from B-1 to B-3 to accommodate a gas station.

"The rezone ... would be for this location only and this applicant only," said a "findings of fact" statement issued by the Plan Commission.

Several residents spoke against having a gas station by their neighborhood.

"Actually there was a lot of discussion on this," said Council Vice President Larry Ballah, R-2nd, who also sits on the Plan Commission.

Other neighbors objected to a liquor license being sought for the business, but the council noted that the original zoning already included the sales of liquor.

The council said it was approving the proposal because of the good reputation of Family Express and that it expects to see a first-class operation.

"You have done a tremendous job with the town of Griffith," Family Express attorney David Wickland told the board.

The council also presented a special plaque to Carol Bezat bearing the name of her late husband, Leonard Bezat, a longtime park superintendent who died several years ago.

The plaque will be permanently placed at the Central Park pavilion at 4 p.m. May 11.

"Carol is a wonderful person who has been very kind to Griffith," Ryfa said. "We admire her undying love for Leonard and are honored to remember him."

* This story has been changed.

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