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7/9/2018 6:51:00 PM
Some south Lake County communities show fast growth

Carmen McCollum, Times of Northwest Indiana

Three communities in south Lake County are among the fastest-growing municipalities in Northwest Indiana, with the town of Winfield topping the list.

Following Winfield are the town of St. John and the city of Crown Point. The estimates are based on the U.S. Census data looking at the populations between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2017.

The south Lake County communities of Schererville and Dyer showed a slight decrease due to a variety of factors, town leaders

According to the U.S. Census, Winfield had a population of 5,684 residents on July 1, 2017, growing from a 2010 estimate of 4,529 residents. That represents a dramatic increase of 25.5 percent. The small town, which incorporated in 1993 to avoid being annexed by the town of Merrillville, has been growing at a fast clip since that time.

The town of St. John had a population change of 15.8 percent, growing to 17,259 in 2017, from 14,898 on April 1, 2010.

St. John Town Manager Steve Kil said the population estimate for St. John is even higher based on its own records.

He said the data his staff put together show that between 2011 and up to June 2018, there have been 1,136 new single family homes, along with 293 duplexes, and 92 townhouses for a total of 1,521 new housing starts.

"If you take that number and estimate at least three people in each home, and multiply that by the number of new housing starts, then we've grown by another 4,563 people," he said. "Add that to our census population of 14,850, then that brings us to 19,413 people."

Kil said he thinks a combination of issues is driving the growth.

"We do have a large migration of people from Illinois, there's no doubt about that," he said.

"They look at the community, schools, the crime rate, property taxes and local services. All of those items drive them to St. John. We have the lowest corporate tax rate at 53 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, with the exception of our good friends in Winfield.

 

"We have the highest median home value in Lake County at $260,000. We had the highest median income in 2016 of $100,000 per year. We have been ranked as the safest city in Indiana by a company called HomeSnacks. The National Council for Home Safety ranked us as the No. 2 safest community," Kil said.

Kil said that combination of factors has made St. John an attractive place for people to relocate and raise a family.

As of July 1, 2017, the city of Crown Point had a population of 29,625, up 6.4 percent from the April 1, 2010, estimate of 27,841 according to the U.S. Census.

The census figures show that in 2010, there were 10,394 households. Crown Point and the town of Winfield are adjacent with the two communities sharing a ZIP code. Children in the Winfield community attend the Crown Point Community School Corp. 

Dyer and Schererville are among the two south Lake County communities that declined slightly.

Dyer declined by 2.6 percent based on U.S. Census data looking at population in July 2017, of 15,941, compared to April 2010, of 16,366.

In July 2017, Schererville had a population of 28,633 compared with an April 1, 2010, population of 29,247, a decrease of 2.1 percent.

Schererville Town Manager Robert Volkmann said Schererville is running out of space for development. He said there was tremendous growth in the 1990s and the early 2000s but that growth has slowed, similar to communities in north Lake County.

"We are an aging community," he said.

"We're seeing our population get older and the children have now grown up and moved away. We haven't experienced anything out of the ordinary with abandoned property. We have had some foreclosures.

"We don't have a lot of housing stock right now, but we have had some new development. We have been averaging 50 to 60 new homes per year. We've had new housing stock, one with 73 lots and another with 100 lots. We've also seen a couple of smaller developments, one with 19 lots and another with eight lots.

"There is more inventory in some of our neighboring communities like Cedar Lake, Crown Point and St. John. But this does give us a little breathing room to concentrate on infrastructure, since we're not dealing with rapid construction and development. Now we can work on keeping our services up," Volkmann said.



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