[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.
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.
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.
Tribune regrets the errors.
By LILY REX
The Porter County
Board of Commissioners heard a presentation on renovating the Memorial Opera
House at its meeting Tuesday.
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
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.
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,
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.
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