It only took about an hour for a couple of NIRPC officials to tell the
Chesterton Town Council that the long-discussed Dickinson Road extension
just doesn’t rate, when it comes to inclusion in the Northwestern Indiana
Regional Planning Commission’s 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan (CRP).
At the council’s meeting Monday night, planning managers Bill Brown and Eman
Ibrahim talked about demographics and residential centers and green
infrastructure and brown fields.
They talked about congestion and urban redevelopment and sprawl and density.
They talked about integrated land use and multijurisdictional needs and
public transit and social equity.
They talked about infill and agricultural assets and livability and economic
At one point Brown even mentioned the Town of Chesterton—by 2040, he said,
its population is projected to have grown by 42 percent and its employment
by 29 percent—but then he quickly returned to his macro-discourse.
In fact Brown and Ibrahim talked for better than 45 minutes before getting
to the nub of the gist: the Dickinson Road extension wasn’t included in the
2040 CRP—and thus isn’t eligible for federal funding streams—because it’s a
“regionally insignificant” project.
Regionally insignificant, that is, chiefly due to the length of the proposed
extension, which would link Indian Boundary Road to East Porter Ave. via
Council Drive: under a mile.
Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, was having none of it. NIRPC, in rejecting
the Dickinson Road extension as a 2040 project, apparently hasn’t even
considered the public-safety issue: namely, that a north/south thoroughfare
east of Ind. 49 is vital for emergency service response. Nor has NIRPC
considered the economic-development issue: namely, that there’s “no
connectivity on the east side of Ind. 49.”
“I’m not going to put a price on anybody’s life,” DeLaney added. “For it to
be regionally insignificant, I can’t agree. NIRPC’s not opening its eyes for
it not to be seeing this.”
The discussion concluded inconclusively, with members agreeing to think
about implementing further studies which could possibly demonstrate the
“regional significance” of the Dickinson Road extension.