Stock - Merrillville Town Hall

Merrillville Town Hall.

MERRILLVILLE — Initial action could take place later this month to establish a funding source for the Merrillville community center project.

The town is considering issuing two bonds totaling roughly $23 million to pay for the initiative in the 6600 block of Broadway.

The process of authorizing the debt involves multiple steps, and the Town Council could vote on the first bond resolution at its May 28 meeting, Councilman Shawn Pettit said.

One of the bonds will involve the Merrillville Road tax increment financing district. Pettit said the TIF district will need to be expanded.

The other bond issue will come out of the Merrillville Building Corp., Pettit said.

State law would require a referendum to advance a bond issue of more than $15.5 million.

By pursuing two separate bond issues, each of which below that amount, it eliminates the need for a public question.

A construction schedule hasn’t yet been created for the center that’s proposed to be more than 100,000 square feet.

Potential amenities include administration offices, a fitness center, gymnasium, walking track, rock climbing wall, event center and community room. A concept for a floor plan has been created, but it could be adjusted if town officials choose to make changes.

Merrillville also is exploring the possibility of creating a path to the center. Councilman Jeff Minchuk said there are nearby residential areas, and a path could be helpful to access the facility.

There have been discussions about leasing space at the center to a youth organization and a health care provider, but that hasn’t been finalized.

Besides the town’s facility, a private volleyball club is interested in purchasing a portion of the land on Broadway to construct an athletic facility adjacent to Merrillville's building. Additional approval would be needed before that proposal advances.

As decisions appear to be approaching for a variety of aspects of the project, the council has acted on other matters involving the center.

The panel has selected CORE Construction to serve as the construction manager/adviser for the project. The town also is in the midst of negotiating terms for additional design work from American Structurepoint, which is the architect for the center.

The costs of the contracts were not immediately available.

The decisions to establish contracts with the two companies received four favoring votes. Councilman Don Spann voted against each of the matters, Councilwoman Marge Uzelac abstained and Councilwoman Chrissy Barron was absent from the meeting.