Merrillville gives a hand to metal forger, county library remodeling
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent May 10, 2011 9:00PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
MERRILLVILLE — The Town Council on Tuesday approved a use variance for a metal forging company wanting to locate on Colorado Street and agreed to waive permit fees for the Lake County Public Library’s upcoming remodeling project.
The council took these votes as their counterparts for the night, students from various schools in the region, ranging from first grade to college, looked on during the annual Merrillville Municipal Week.
The use variance allows Blue Island, Ill.-based Modern Forge Companies to locate at the former NSU building at 8757 Colorado St. and waives the company from the town’s current noise standards.
The company’s attorney, Andrew Fiske, specifically asked that the noise waiver be included
“Our company is a little noisier than others around there and without the
waiver we couldn’t operate here,” Fiske said.
Zoning Director Dorinda Gregor said the use variance would cover both the use and noise issues.
Town Attorney Steve Bower said a number of council members and staff visited the company’s Illinois facility and didn’t find the noise there excessive. Because the property would be located in an industrial area, they didn’t foresee any problems, Bower said.
Councilman Shawn Pettit, D-6th, asked Modern Forge’s chief financial officer, Patrick Thompson, if they didn’t discuss insulating the building and muffling the noise. Thompson said yes, the company is working with Chester Construction on that now.
Thompson said the business is growing and he expects there to be more than 200 jobs when it moves into Merrillville.
“This is a third-generation family company. We expect to hire some local people,” Thompson said.
Councilman Andrew Sylwestrowicz, D-1st, also pointed out that the company agreed to hire some 17- and 18-year-old high school students for summer jobs in the future as he requested.
Modern Forge said it will make a $17 million investment at the site. The company is a supplier for Harley-Davidson motorcycles among other clients.
The council also agreed to waive the building permit fee for the library’s $10 million renovation of its main branch on U.S. 30, but pointed out the waiver does not include the engineering and inspection fees.
Lake County Library Director Larry Acheff said work will start shortly and will take about 18 months to complete. He said the outside and inside of the building will completely change.
“I hope Merrillville will like the change. It’s rather sad looking now,” he said of the library.
The modern box-like building, built in 1968 with an addition built in 1981, will get a new look with a brick and limestone exterior.
The entrance will be expanded and the 7-foot sculpture, The Reader, will be moved to above the new entrance where it would be better showcased.
Inside, the space will be the same but reallocated according to today’s needs, and power lines, data lines and phone lines will be added.