Merrillville to auction off park parcels
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent August 27, 2013 10:30PM
Updated: September 29, 2013 6:47AM
MERRILLVILLE — Thirty-four parcels of vacant land, primarily park properties, will be going on the auction block.
The Town Council on Tuesday approved a recommendation by Town Attorney John Bushemi to hire Rick Niemeyer Auction Service of Lowell to conduct the sale at a time, date and location to be determined.
The council also set a public hearing for the Sept. 10 council meeting to hear public comment and to approve moving ahead with the auction.
Bushemi said the parcels include 26 platted subdivision lots, the Williamsburg land, Hendricks Park, Barclay Village Park, Jennings and Wilson Park, the Jennings and Wilson baseball diamond, Devonshire Park and Stefek Park.
Parks Superintendent Caryn Wilson said some of the parcels include the entire park, while others, like Stefek, are just a portion of the park.
“This is a way to reduce maintenance of some of the parks. We mow and maintain all the properties now,” Wilson said.
Bushemi said Indiana law allows the sale of the properties, with the objective of obtaining fair market value for taxpayers.
He said the auctioneer receives 5 percent of gross sale proceeds.
Bushemi said the lots will be sold as is and recommends anyone interested in purchasing one of the lots for development purposes contact Zoning director Dorinda Gregor prior to the auction to see if the land is suitable for building.
“Buyers will need to do their own due diligence and go through the proper zoning channels,” Bushemi said.
Councilman Ron Widing, D-7th, said some of the parcels up for sale are buildable for houses.
Councilman Tom Goralczyk, D-4th, said there still is park equipment at Hendricks Park. He asked if it would need to come down before the sale.
“I don’t want to incur the expense of taking it down,” Goralczyk said.
Goralczyk also said engineers Christopher Burke talked about doing some water retention on some of the 26 platted vacant properties that were appraised and ready for auction.
“We may want to withdraw that property,” he said.
Bushemi said the council didn’t have to decide Tuesday night what properties would be placed for sale. It just had to approve the auction process. He added that the parcels could be sold with or without equipment.
Bushemi said the town doesn’t have to accept the highest bid price, either.
“The town will have the final say if it wants to retain the parcel in the event it isn’t offered enough money for a parcel,” the attorney said.