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Old 09-27-2010, 11:39 AM
 
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I feel like when recommending places to live to people who post on this board, Highland doesn't get mentioned much and seems to be a forgotten town in the region quite often. Why do you think this is?

I grew up in Highland. It's not a perfect town, but there's not much terribly wrong with it either. Munster gets a lot of good pub, the tri-towns get a decent amount of praise as well, but Highland's not bad. Blue collar very average respectable town. What are your thoughts on Highland? What can the town do to take that "next step" that Munster evidently has taken already?
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Old 09-27-2010, 01:49 PM
 
Location: South Chicagoland
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Highland is where Borders is located. I like Highland.

Of course, I usually go to the Borders in Matteson but we're talking NW Indiana.

Last edited by urza216; 09-27-2010 at 01:58 PM..
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Old 09-27-2010, 05:08 PM
 
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Post Just my opinion

Quote:
Originally Posted by svillechris View Post
I feel like when recommending places to live to people who post on this board, Highland doesn't get mentioned much and seems to be a forgotten town in the region quite often. Why do you think this is?

I grew up in Highland. It's not a perfect town, but there's not much terribly wrong with it either. Munster gets a lot of good pub, the tri-towns get a decent amount of praise as well, but Highland's not bad. Blue collar very average respectable town. What are your thoughts on Highland? What can the town do to take that "next step" that Munster evidently has taken already?
Honestly (and not trying to offend anybody) I think that the reason is because Highland is just increasingly being left in the dust by Munster as the years go on. Munster has always been a notch more affluent than Highland but the gap is increasing and it seems that while Munster is becoming more affluent and home values are rising, Highland is not seeing much of an increase in values. When people look at Highland, they are going to compare it to Munster because the towns are similar in size and population. However, when one looks at the school systems and housing stock, there is not too much similarity anymore. Highland has been losing funding for programs (even more recently) and Munster has not really had to cut any programs (as the teachers voluntarily waived a raise allowing for more student expenditures). The most "comparable" school system in to Munster is probably Crown Point and Lake Central. However, those systems are much larger as well. But due to the quality of those systems being closer to Munster's than Highland, many people recommend those towns as an alternative to Munster. Munster and Highland used to be HUGE rivals in schools and just the towns in general. Now it seems as though they are only geographical rivals and the new rivalry is Munster vs. LC.

The one thing that I know Highland definitely beats Munster at is their downtown. Munster's downtown is not really a destination whereas Highland's is. HOWEVER, I still feel that Highland still needs to do some serious redevelopment (and infill development) in the area or at least encourage it. I am seeing some redevelopment on Indianapolis blvd by Thornton's gas station so this is a good sign. However, is the town wants to "rise in the ranks" so to speak, they need to assure that any redevelopment does not become something like a pawn shop, or pay day advance, or a liquor store. NEW developments like that are usually not an indicator of an attractive town (unless it is a college town). Also, Highland should encourage more redevelopment of Wicker Park Manor (formerly Frog Hollow). Being the first neighborhood right off of the expressway, it does not really give a good first impression of Highland...and the the same goes for the Ultra/Big Lots area further down the road.

At the end of the day, I personally would only recommend Highland to someone who is either an empty nester, older, or just starting out with a family. I really feel that for middle school/high school, Highland does not do as good of a job as Munster, LC, or Crown Point. And with a sub-par school system, we cannot realistically expect families to move into a smaller home in Highland for the same price as a bigger (maybe newer) home in the tri-town or Crown Point area...If Munster schools were not as excellent as they are, the town would be nowhere where it is today.

Having said all this, I do not necessarily think Highland is going downhill. However, I think that Highland is not really taking many steps to insure that it doesn't go downhill. For example, the construction that will happen at the Lincoln Center is a huge improvement for the town!

Side Note: A situation that is just like this is (for example) how people are quick to recommend Downers Grove, IL to residents as opposed to Westmont, IL. Those two towns are right next to each other but still have some significant differences between them.

Steps Highland can take:

1. Ensure that absolutely NO out-of-district students are illegally attending its schools. This is one thing that began to affect the Munster schools and they pounced on this issue like a dog on a t-bone.

2. Encourage residential infill development (especially the neighborhoods near downtown).

3. Beautify landscaping on major roads.

4. Try to attract more higher-income residents into the town.

5. Create a big gateway sign into Highland off of 80/94 and a gateway sign into Downtown Highland from Ridge Road. Make these gateways cross over the road somehow so that drivers can clearly see where they are entering.

6. Explore some options for creating some loft apartments downtown. Or IF there are any vacant buildings, converting those into higher-end living space.

Last edited by Northwest Indiana; 09-27-2010 at 05:33 PM..
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Old 09-28-2010, 08:27 AM
 
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I remember seeing some of the lending, leverage, and foreclosure data for Highland six months back. While a better number of people there own their homes outright versus the other "nicer" towns mentioned, those that are mortgaged are in bad shape. That doesn't bode well for resale value...or for the schools.

The school board for Highland needs to get their act together.
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Old 09-28-2010, 08:37 AM
 
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Ultimately, doesn't it all come down to pushing for better schools and spending the taxpayer money on the schools? I feel like schools are the #1 priority when people want to find a place to raise their family, and the more affluent the buyer, the better the schools they will want (in general). You start with bettering the schools, then the more upscale buyers come in, driving up home prices, and the cylce continues. Then you have a higher tax base, more tax dollars in, more improvements can be made to the town, etc.
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Old 09-28-2010, 09:02 AM
 
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Thumbs up I agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by svillechris View Post
Ultimately, doesn't it all come down to pushing for better schools and spending the taxpayer money on the schools? I feel like schools are the #1 priority when people want to find a place to raise their family, and the more affluent the buyer, the better the schools they will want (in general). You start with bettering the schools, then the more upscale buyers come in, driving up home prices, and the cylce continues. Then you have a higher tax base, more tax dollars in, more improvements can be made to the town, etc.
I agree with you here. The problem (at least in NWI) is that improving schools not only takes a community's moral and physical support, but FINANCIAL support as well. And we can clearly see (esp. in the case of the LC district) that many residents are not willing to financially support the schools. The only communities that I can think of to where it seems like "money is not an issue" when it comes to schools is Munster, Crown Point, and Valparaiso. And their schools are top notch (physically and academically). Lake Central is not bad by any means but if the residents keep voting down improvements, the school system will not improve at all and property values will go down. Many people I know who have moved to the tri-town area recently did so because they could get more house for the money than in Munster. However, all of them are sending their kids to private schools. It seems to be trend that is becoming more popular in the tri-town area. Also, some Briar Ridge residents send some of their students to Munster schools and some Highland residents have moved to Munster for a child's high school years (or even senior year) just so they can graduate from Munster. I see this as a problem that needs to be fixed because in order for NWI to rise in the ranks as a whole, all towns have to have something good to offer (especially in the education department).

Highland is in a VERY good position geographically. The town needs to get its act together and take advantage of this by improving the schools and housing stock. A trend that is becoming more popular is for people to relocate closer to a city center. Thus in Chicago, you see gentrification. While it may not become as widespread in NWI, we already see in Munster that people are tearing down and rebuilding closer to the expressway (and not necessarily with properties that were damaged by the flood). If Highland schools improve, then maybe they could experience the same wonderful phenomenon.
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Old 09-28-2010, 10:50 AM
 
774 posts, read 1,924,169 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northwest Indiana View Post
I agree with you here. The problem (at least in NWI) is that improving schools not only takes a community's moral and physical support, but FINANCIAL support as well. And we can clearly see (esp. in the case of the LC district) that many residents are not willing to financially support the schools. The only communities that I can think of to where it seems like "money is not an issue" when it comes to schools is Munster, Crown Point, and Valparaiso. And their schools are top notch (physically and academically). Lake Central is not bad by any means but if the residents keep voting down improvements, the school system will not improve at all and property values will go down. Many people I know who have moved to the tri-town area recently did so because they could get more house for the money than in Munster. However, all of them are sending their kids to private schools. It seems to be trend that is becoming more popular in the tri-town area. Also, some Briar Ridge residents send some of their students to Munster schools and some Highland residents have moved to Munster for a child's high school years (or even senior year) just so they can graduate from Munster. I see this as a problem that needs to be fixed because in order for NWI to rise in the ranks as a whole, all towns have to have something good to offer (especially in the education department).

Highland is in a VERY good position geographically. The town needs to get its act together and take advantage of this by improving the schools and housing stock. A trend that is becoming more popular is for people to relocate closer to a city center. Thus in Chicago, you see gentrification. While it may not become as widespread in NWI, we already see in Munster that people are tearing down and rebuilding closer to the expressway (and not necessarily with properties that were damaged by the flood). If Highland schools improve, then maybe they could experience the same wonderful phenomenon.
Agreed completely. 2 points - Lake Central's Elemantary and Middle Schools (especially Watson and Grimmer, respectively) are still excellent, and the high school is a notch or two down from excellent, let's call it "still pretty darn good". With all of the problems of overcrowding, talent leaving for private schools, and lack of taxpayer money being spent on the schools, I actually think LCSC has faired pretty well. The school system has all of the potential in the world to become the best in the region if they can spend some money on the schools.

NWI is so interesting such that one town can be so much different than a town next door. You think Highland and Munster, and the two are really not even close anymore. You can't just attribute that to location to Chicago, because Highland's only another 5 mins further (depending on locations in each town maybe closer to Chicago). What this tells me is that it's the decisions made by each town's counsel and school board that makes the difference. If it was simply geography, Crown Point wouldn't have such a good school system because it's frankly not very close to Chicago.
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Old 09-28-2010, 11:11 AM
 
2,105 posts, read 4,441,783 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svillechris View Post
Agreed completely. 2 points - Lake Central's Elemantary and Middle Schools (especially Watson and Grimmer, respectively) are still excellent, and the high school is a notch or two down from excellent, let's call it "still pretty darn good". With all of the problems of overcrowding, talent leaving for private schools, and lack of taxpayer money being spent on the schools, I actually think LCSC has faired pretty well. The school system has all of the potential in the world to become the best in the region if they can spend some money on the schools.

NWI is so interesting such that one town can be so much different than a town next door. You think Highland and Munster, and the two are really not even close anymore. You can't just attribute that to location to Chicago, because Highland's only another 5 mins further (depending on locations in each town maybe closer to Chicago). What this tells me is that it's the decisions made by each town's counsel and school board that makes the difference. If it was simply geography, Crown Point wouldn't have such a good school system because it's frankly not very close to Chicago.
Regarding your last point, I really do agree. However, when we look at places that are being "revived" or gentrified right now, the majority of them are either in Chicago itself, or in the inner ring suburbs (north). Those are geographically the best locations for those who have high paying jobs. Easy and less expensive commute = less stress and more money. Those areas also have some of the best schools. In Northwest Indiana, we have a VERY strong link to Chicago. Sure we do have our industry here, but 90% of the most affluent people in NWI work in Chicago. The other 10% would be the likes of Don Powers, the Schepel family, or other people who have built their wealth here. However, they are obviously in the minority.

I think Highland has the potential to become a much greater town than it is now. Most towns have this potential. But it seems that many people in the town believe that the fact that they are "cheaper than Munster but safer than Hammond/EC/Gary" is enough to keep the town nice and attractive. And it is not. It is good that we agree that the schools are the number one issue with the town. And since the schools are not terrible, this means that the other issues should not be too much to tackle.

[BTW, I cannot give you a rep point because it says I have to "spread the wealth" lol...but if I could, I would!]
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Old 09-28-2010, 02:19 PM
 
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Default Comprehensive Plan

Here is a link to Highland's website and its "Comprehensive Plan" section. I think some of the ideas in it are very good. It is just a matter of doing them. I think this is the main thing that separate's Munster from Highland. Having good ideas and actually embarking upon them. I really think Highland residents need to look at this and have serious input.

Town of Highland - Comprehensive Plan

I REALLY REALLY REALLY like the plan for Kennedy Avenue. That really would create a new image for Highland.

Last edited by Northwest Indiana; 09-28-2010 at 02:30 PM..
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Old 09-28-2010, 04:15 PM
 
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I really don't have anything to add, except I always think that Highland is Indiana's Lansing. I don't know how I've gotten that stuck in my head, but it's always been my perception.
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