It is my view and the view of others that Merrillville can not afford the new community center as it currently being funded. Extending TIF districts and using bonding authority that IS NOT subject to voter referendums is how other municipalities here in Indiana and elsewhere waded into distressing financial waters.
There are other parts of this project that also concern me.
First, it is in the wrong location. Almost everything the Merrillville Parks and Recreation Department does is in the northern edge of the town. In the almost 50 years since the town was formed, the south, west and certainly the east edges have been given the short end of the stick when it comes to park development.
Second, the volleyball group that wants to purchase part of the property to build their tournament/practice center would prohibit use of the community center during tournament times and prohibit expansion of the center in future years.
Third, there has been poor park land management. In the past, park land was set aside by developers in order to get a subdivision built. Unfortunately and expensively, there have been times when easements were not maintained by the park department and town council. Those easements then went up for sale on the sheriff's tax sale and had to be purchased back from the new owners at inflated rates.
Furthermore, in my ward (4) there have been two parks deemed unnecessary, closed and listed for sale. There was a third park in my ward that was listed for sale but no one would meet the asking price, so instead it was rehabbed and the local Montessori school uses the playground — which is fine — and the gangs hang out because police patrols are almost nonexistent in my ward!
Rick La Fever, Merrilville