Crown Point Mayor Dave Uran talks about his 14 years of leadership. Staff photo by John J. Watkins
Crown Point Mayor Dave Uran talks about his 14 years of leadership. Staff photo by John J. Watkins
CROWN POINT — Mayor David Uran was first elected in November 2007 — by the time he took office in January 2008, the U.S. housing crisis had begun.

"I was the rookie on the roster, but when I talked to the more experienced mayors at the time, they didn't have a playbook for what to do," Uran recalled during an interview with The Times last week. "We were very fortunate; we kept things pretty stable. Crown Point was still producing some new businesses, not at the volume we were before the housing crash took place, but we were still better than most, and so we were able to survive that."

As soon as he took office, Uran was focused on "Building a Stronger Community from Within," a campaign slogan he promotes to this day. In the wake of the housing collapse, building a stronger community meant creating a solid financial base for the city.

His early efforts to grow the city's rainy day fund and increase Crown Point's value have paid off, the mayor said. Uran estimated that five years ago Crown Point had around $22 million of total value throughout the city's various accounts — now it has $67 million.

After just over 14 years in office, Uran is preparing to leave his role June 2. He will start his new job as president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority on June 3.

There are still about 18 months remaining in Uran's fourth term as mayor. After a 30-day caucus, the Democratic precinct organization will select a replacement on the evening of June 2.

A clear plan from day one

Just glancing at the walls of Uran's City Hall office, his accomplishments as mayor are apparent. Signed hard hats, framed newspaper articles and Uran's first certificate of election sit alongside his impressive collection of sports memorabilia.

Uran became the Crown Point's second Democratic mayor after the city's first Democratic mayor, Jim Metros, urged him to run. One of the things that set Uran's campaign apart was his early use of video.

Uran and his team went door-to-door handing out a DVD entitled "Four Minutes for Four Years," which laid out his platform in a succinct way.

"We knew that we only had about three or four minutes of your attention," Uran said. "We said, 'Listen, if community is important to you, watch this DVD, it will tell you everything about me and what I want to do for the city of Crown Point.'"

Over the past decade, Crown Point's population has gone from 27,000 to about 34,000, though Uran said much of that growth was already on the books when he took office. Though not yet visible, several housing projects were in the works, and Uran knew investing in public safety was key to managing the city's growth.

In 1990 Uran became the 23rd officer in the Crown Point Police Department. By 2008, the department had grown to 38; now the city has 51 officers. The fire department has also seen an increase, jumping from just 19 firefighters in 2008 to a current total of 42.

Investing in infrastructure

As a bedroom community consisting largely of families, Uran knew a growing population would mean far more cars on the road. That is why he emphasized addressing the city's aging infrastructure early on.

Passing the controversial wheel tax in 2016 allowed the city to up the number of miles paved from two per year to 10. Improving the city's main corridors was also a top priority, completing projects like the long-awaited 109th Avenue has set that area up for continued growth, Uran said.

He has "easily" attended a couple hundred ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings while in office, "and the city is stronger because of all of them."

While bringing new business and development to the city, Uran also focused on Crown Point's "heartbeat" — the historic downtown, making the area more pedestrian friendly with bump-outs, more parking spaces and clear signage.

"Our role as government is to bring people to Crown Point and put them in front of your business. ... Then you as a business owner have to have a product that is going to bring them inside," Uran said.

Supporting businesses has also helped the city diversify how it collects taxes. Projects like Bulldog Park and the Sportsplex help bring in tourism dollars, meaning the city does not "always have to rely on the homeowner." Under Uran, Crown Point also opened its first hotel in recent history, and has plans for a second.

"We are very proud that we have the lowest municipal tax rate of any city in three counties (Lake, Porter and LaPorte) and we are still able to raise our assessed valuation — we are an over $2 billion community now," Uran said.

As he looks to begin a new professional chapter, Uran said he will connect with the many communities that the SSCVA serves. He wants to learn about each municipality's top employers, nonprofits and events.

His goal is to "build a stronger Region together" by showcasing the many features that make Northwest Indiana unique, such as the Lake Michigan shoreline, historic downtowns and the extensive bike trail system.

"I want to show other communities that what we did here in Crown Point can be replicated in your own backyard," Uran said.

Almost 15 years ago, Uran found out he would become Crown Point's next mayor after learning that his opponent
, Gayle Van Sessen, had conceded. That night he stood atop a chair at White Hawk Country Club and said, "We've gone from a family of six to a family of 24,000."

Now Uran's family has grown once again — to include the almost 500,000 residents that call Lake County home.

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