Crown Point is known as the “Hub of Lake County” and that certainly showed as our latest “Life in the Streets” video featuring Crown Point was so packed, it needed two parts!
Mayor David Uran hosted Ideas in Motion Media Founder Chris Mahlmann for a tour of all the things happening throughout his city, including the famous Downtown Square, the future of the Southlake YMCA, the SpartaDome and athletic fields and road improvements. It really showcases who Mayor Uran is and how he runs his city.
Taking off from Crown Point’s City Hall in Downtown Crown Point, Mayor Uran wanted to start off by driving to one of the city’s most lively and celebrated destinations.
Life on The Square
Mayor Uran lovingly calls the Square the “heart beat and life-line of Crown Point,” as it serves not only as a link to the past with the city’s early homesteads, but as a current hub for the several special events that take place in the Square every year.
That’s why Mayor Uran and his dedicated team at the city take pride in keeping the buildings, old and new, looking tip-top. He explains to Chris the behind-the-scenes work that goes into the downtown while they cruise through downtown’s Main Street.
“You can see there’s been a lot of renovations through with our façade program here,” Mayor Uran said. “A lot of our 50/50 programs - where our business owners have come in and partnered with our redevelopment commission and kind of refaced and remodeled and worked with our historical preservation commission to preserve the times of the past - give it kind of a new look at the same time.”
“You’ve got everything from attorneys to bars to delis to coffee houses to the Marines,” Mahlmann said. “You’ve literally got everybody downtown.”
“Chris, this truly is a mixed bag of different things, like you said, downtown here,” Mayor Uran replied. “So it’s something for everybody. Different parts of the day, or different parts of the evenings, or different parts of the seasonal applications down here will cater towards that particular person’s needs.”
As they did a few laps in The Square, they came upon some important talking points, such as the beloved Crown Theater, which has been closed for remodeling for years due to the switch from the old reel to digital format. Mayor Uran hopes that the city has found a potential resident who will restore the cinematic Crown Point landmark to once again being open for business.
Reminiscing about the many free, family events hosted in the Square, such as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, 4th of July Parade, car shows and Chamber of Commerce events, Mayor Uran said it’s a team effort with people like Diana Bosse of the City of Crown Point Mayor’s Special Events office, who coordinate with nearby business owners to be a part of city events.
Hometown sports pride is alive and well in Crown Point with Crown Point High School’s football team the Bulldogs taking on the La Porte Slicers for their homecoming game, prompting business owners to decorate their window fronts with player’s names and well-wishes for victory.
Cruising on Main Street
Mayor Uran said Main Street was one of the first commercial roads in Crown Point, stretching north to south throughout the city. Heading towards the intersection of North Main Street and 93rd Avenue, Mahlmann and Mayor Uran discussed the newly installed roundabout and the possibility of more being built in the area.
“I think people probably watched the movie with Clark W. Griswald in European Vacation and saw him get stuck on that very first roundabout at Big Ben and Parliament,” Mayor Uran said. “I think that people think, ‘That’s going to be me. I’m going to be here for hours and can’t get off.’”
To the contrary, Mayor Uran said not only are they efficient, functionable and reduce stand-still in traffic, but roundabouts reduce the amount of fatal or harmful accidents.
Just like in the downtown area, the redevelopment commission has likewise partnered with business owners further north on the street to beautify their store fronts through a grant program in which the city has invested $150,000 in the last two to three years, compounding with $2 million in private investment.
Checking out the Roundabout
The newly rehabbed western leg of 93rd Avenue adds safety, beautification and new amenities to the city.
“As much as this is not the most well-traveled roadway in Crown Point as far as traffic counts,” Mayor Uran said. “It was one of our higher traffic accident areas. So we got a grant, we worked with Butler Fairman & Seufert to beautify this intersection, put a trail head as part of the Erie Lackawanna and the Pennsy Railroad to make this happen. Now you have a very nice, safe intersection, but it beautified the corner as well.”
The Eriee-Lakawana Trailhead is a perfect spot for bikers and pedestrians to enjoy some recreational cruising on a paved, nature-surrounded path.
Brotherhood of Mayors
As the Founder of Ideas in Motion Media, Mahlmann has gotten to know Northwest Indiana’s mayors well over the years, and cruised with the mayors of Whiting, Hammond, Michigan City and Hobart.
“There seems to be a heck of a lot of collaboration where you guys are sharing stories, figuring out how to deal with problems, sharing perspective on things. It seems to be there’s a little bit of a brotherhood that exists among you all,” Mahlmann said.
“There is. Whether it’s positive or negative applications that take place in a city, we share those stories,” Mayor Uran said. “Our City of Crown Point is very comparable to Valparaiso, the downtown, the size and feel, the bedroom community. So we always look at what John Costas is doing in Valparaiso, and what’s working there probably can work here in Crown Point and vice versa. What’s happening in Crown Point can work in Valparaiso. So we do share a lot of ideas.”
Being a Mayor and a Coach
“You seem to approach things like a coach,” Mahlmann observed, talking about Mayor Uran’s leadership style and teamwork skills.
“Chris, that’s my background probably because I’ve played sports my entire life,” Mayor Uran said. “I’ve coached high school basketball, I played college baseball, I was a referee. Especially in basketball, I was a player, I was a coach and I love the game. But talking about as a mayor, we’re trying to extract the talent of our community, we’re trying to put the best talent on our streets - whether that’s through residential ownership, business community ownership or visitors who experience our city. You’re right, we do have a game plan that’s out there, we do want to be able to analyze what took place after the fact. Can we be better? Did we do it correctly? And if we did do it right, can we still do it better the next time?”
What’s Big on Broadway
Mayor Uran said Broadway, a state highway shared by Crown Point and Merrillville, is a place where the business community is growing to provide for the increasing number of residents. Some highlights include the Ameriplex and Ivy Tech on the Merrillville side, and Crown Point’s new Community Hospital Rehab Center that is currently under construction, a $35 million investment.
“That’s going to help spark some additional development and opportunities because when you have that many people and jobs being created, you need resources that are going to support that around it,” Mayor Uran said. “Whether its new businesses coming here or new opportunities coming or making what’s currently here, Chris, even stronger.”
Stay tuned for Part Two!