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Schererville town manager reflects on over three decades of service

Bob Volkman retires as metropolis manager of Schererville

SCHERERVILLE – When Bob Volkmann moved to Schererville in 1979, Crossroads of America was nonetheless a sleepy farm town with fewer than 10,000 residents.

Nearly 5 decades later, the bustling suburban group is house to just about 30,000 folks.

“I was almost completely involved in the development of the city after 1975,” says Volkmann, who labored in building for a few years. “We were very busy in the 2010s, so it wasn’t unusual to add 350 apartments a year.”

Volkmann has led Schererville’s development over the previous 36 years by means of numerous metropolis authorities positions. On January 1st, Volkmann will benefit from the metropolis’s progress from a special approach – retirement.

After becoming a member of the planning fee in 1986, Volkmann labored part-time as a constructing inspector for the town, switched to the civil engineering workplace and has been the town manager for the previous 17 years. Volkmann, who simply celebrated his seventieth birthday, described his time within the metropolis administration as “a very enriching career”.

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Schererville City Manager Bob Volkmann retires

Schererville City Manager Bob Volkmann will retire on the finish of the yr after 36 years of service to the town.

John J. Watkins, The Times

“I’ve always enjoyed helping people. That gives me a lot of joy,” said Volkmann, adding that during his time as a building inspector he learned “that you help people. They’re not there to find out what they did wrong or anything like that. If you see something wrong, work with them to try to correct it.”

When Volkmann switched to the civil engineering division, he felt expanded: “You basically take care of the whole community.”

Despite his restricted administrative expertise, his caring for the town and willingness to be taught helped him when he was appointed City Manager in 2005. His high priorities included guaranteeing departmental cooperation and sustaining metropolis infrastructure within the face of inhabitants development.

During his first yr on the Planning Commission, they met for hours each Saturday morning to rewrite the constructing codes. Volkmann has now up to date the town’s zoning three instances; He stated the method ensures the town can develop sustainably.

Another downside to resolve

Sewage infrastructure, public security assets, and street enhancements are all issues that “need to snowball and grow every year to serve the community,” Volkmann defined.

In 1998, the town leaders glued collectively a big map and positioned it on the ground of the previous town corridor. Volkmann remembers crawling round with markers on the map — actually planning the Kennedy Avenue growth.

“I asked the engineer how long it would take, and he said, ‘Oh, Bob, that’s going to be 20 years,'” Volkmann remembers. “He was wrong, it’s been about 25 years.”

After years of backwards and forwards, the Kennedy Avenue growth is lastly taking form. According to a March presentation, the challenge stretches from Main Street to US 30 and consists of widening and rebuilding the closely trafficked road. Phase one is scheduled to start in fall 2024.

The challenge is more likely to be accomplished by 2030, and Volkmann joked he hopes he’ll be “close to racing on it”.

Downtown rebuilding is one other of Schererville’s long-term initiatives.

In the late ’90s, the town started shopping for tons alongside Joliet Street to construct the Police Department and City Hall. Volkmann has continued shopping for properties west of City Hall, finishing the ultimate lot in late October. While nothing is concrete, Volkmann envisions retailers and eating places topped by condos. Several native companies have already taken benefit of Schererville’s facade enchancment program.

Schererville City Manager Bob Volkmann retires

Volkmann, 70, turned metropolis manager in 2005. For the previous 4 years, he has been grooming Operations Manager Jim Gorman to take on the position upon his retirement.

John J. Watkins, The Times

The metropolis can be working with an architect to design a brand new central hearth station. The present central hearth station is positioned throughout the road from City Hall at 1650 Cline Avenue and dates from the 1970’s.

Volkmann stated the purpose was to “give new impetus to the city center”.

Though Volkmann has confronted a bunch of challenges over the years — the 2008 and 2009 floods, main snowstorms, and of course a pandemic — he has “always seen every problem as just another problem to solve.”

“I’ll do what needs to be done,” stated Volkmann. That philosophy, coupled with a stable group of colleagues, made his time within the metropolis authorities sustainable, he stated.

From division heads to the town council, Schererville has all the time had secure management, Volkmann stated, including that “politics played a very small role in the running of the city.”

To keep Schererville’s stability, Volkmann promoted former Superintendent of Wastewater Treatment Jim Gorman to superintendent. For the previous 4 years, Volkmann has ready Gorman for the position of metropolis manager.

Schererville City Manager Bob Volkmann retires

Teamwork has all the time been a central half of Volkmann’s management model. He stated he by no means understood the division between metropolis departments as a result of “wWe’re all right here to take care of this group.”

John J. Watkins, The Times

After his departure, Volkmann stated he hopes the town management will proceed to advertise Schererville as a group with a very good high quality of life — the best place to boost a household.

“Other than the things that the city has built and the growth that we’ve seen, what would you like to leave behind? What should people remember?” Volkmann pondered. “Most of all, I would like folks to do not forget that the town of Schererville is a superb place.”

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