Chesterton Tribune



Correction: Commissioners hear plan to renovate Opera House, a living Civil War memorial

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Correction: Opera house grant

A story [below from the Friday, September 21] edition of the Chesterton Tribune, headlined, “Commissioners hear plan to renovate Opera House, a living Civil War memorial,” contained two errors.

The story, regarding a feasibility study on the Opera House that was presented to the Commissioners at their Sept. 18 meeting, stated that Memorial Opera House Director Scot MacDonald secured a 50/50 matching grant for renovations at the Opera House with help from the Porter County Community Foundation. That statement is inaccurate.

According to MacDonald, the grant was received through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeology. It was a matching grant, and the match was made in part by donations made to the Memorial Opera House Foundation.

The funds were also not for renovations, but for the cost of the feasibility study, which determined what renovations could be made for preservation and potential expansion of the Opera House.

The Chesterton Tribune regrets the errors.

Posted 9/26/2018



The Porter County Board of Commissioners heard a presentation on renovating the Memorial Opera House at its meeting Tuesday.

Memorial Opera House Director Scot MacDonald said he has worked with the Porter County Community Foundation to secure a 50/50 matching grant for renovations on the Opera House.

MacDonald retained the services of Indianapolis-based Schmidt & Associates to conduct a feasibility study determining what top priorities for restoration should be, how the space could be used better, what the possibilities are for the future, and what restoration would cost.

Desma Belsaas, architect with Schmidt & Associates, said an assessment of the building was conducted to determine the best way to keep its historical character and maintain the structural soundness of the building in renovations. Belsaas said top priority items are the exterior walls, windows, and doors, steps and access points, exterior lights, and mechanical systems, such as HVAC. Improvements to the exterior will help keep moisture out, and improvements to the access points, exterior lighting, and mechanical systems will keep guests more comfortable when inside and safer coming and going. Belsaas further said there is some deterioration in the building’s mortar, and moisture tends to build up at the base of walls, causing some of the brick facade to fall off. The back steps, part of an emergency exit, have trip hazards and need replacing. Many of the major components of the mechanical systems are at end of life and need full replacement. Belsaas estimates all the improvements she recommended could cost up to $1,530,000.

Belsaas said she examined the potential for expanding the Opera House to the west for future possibilities. Doing so would involve a physical connection to the Porter County Museum, where a shared ADA compliant set of bathrooms could benefit both buildings. Such an expansion would also allow for a larger gathering space and a larger, updated controls room in the Opera House, she said. Expansion could cost another $1.5 million.

The Board accepted the study for the record, and thanked the Foundation for their support of the Opera House.

The Opera House is a living memorial to all from Porter County who died to preserve the Union, 1861-1865.

Other Approvals

In other capital improvements business, the Board awarded bids for bid package no.1 for work on the new North County Annex--a complex the County will share with the Portage Township Assessor and the Portage Food Bank.

Project Manager with Skillman Corporation Dion Katsouros reported the low, responsive, and responsible bidders for the three categories. General trades went to Ziolkowski Construction for $3,039,800. Masonry also went to Ziolkowski, for $544,900, and roofing went to E.C. Babillia Roofing for $816,400. The bid package came to a total of $4,401,100, which Katsouros says is under budget by about $100,000.

The Board approved a payment to Gariup Construction for restoration on the Porter County Courthouse for $179,317.25. The remaining balance is $368,182.75.

The Board approved a contract with USI Consultants for work on Bridge 168, Brummitt Road over the Little Calumet River in Chesterton. County Planner Robert Thompson reported that INDOT has scheduled Bridge 168 for replacement in January 2022.




Posted 9/21/2018




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