Knox Mayor Dennis Estok wants to revive a once proud Knox neighborhood. Parkview Heights was built in 1941 by the Federal Works Agency Division of Defense as worker housing for employees of the Kingsbury Ordinance Plant. During World War II the LaPorte County site was one of the largest shell-loading plants in the nation.
Many of those temporary worker houses are still standing but have not been well maintained over the years. Estok began cleanup efforts for the neighborhood during his first stint as mayor but was unable to finish the job. It’s now among his top priorities. Parkview is considered a blighted neighborhood. As a result, Estok says it drags down the entire city’s assessed value and results in lost revenue.
He hopes to obtain grant funds to finish rehabilitating Parkview Heights and says he spoken to several of the resident property owners. Estok says if they are willing to relocate they will likely end up with a better home than what they currently have.
Part of that rehabilitation will include running new water and sewer lines, as the ones currently in place are not buried deep enough to avoid freezing when temperatures drop. Estok says the entire neighborhood would look completely different.
“If you did a complete overhaul of Parkview, there’s only one street you’d be able to keep. That’s the main street, Clark Street. It’s wide enough and it’s in good shape. The other streets are too narrow. The water lines and sewer lines were temporary. They weren’t put in very deep, so basically you would have to redo all that, all the infrastructure. You would use the main road, and then you would develop around the main road.”
Estok will discuss his plans for Parkview and some of his other goals for Knox Sunday at noon on Kankakee Valley Viewpoints.
Click The Building of Parkview 1941 to view photos from the construction, courtesy of the Starke County Public Library.