residents Lyn and John MacDougall were at Tuesday’s Porter County Board of
Commissioners meeting to discuss the condition of the Calumet Trail.
Lyn read a
statement prepared by John, who she said has trouble speaking. Lyn read from
the statement, saying John uses his wheelchair to go outdoors and also rides
a recumbent trike to enjoy nature. “The Calumet Trail, as it is today, is
unusable for me and would be unusable or very unpleasant for most bikers,
runners, or users of any kind. Most cyclists instead risk their lives to use
Highway 12. The surface is very large, rough gravel or clay set in some sort
of concrete that is so jagged it is a hazard,” the statement said.
MacDougall went on
in his statement to say the Calumet Trail is an important link in the
Marquette Greenway and could be a valuable asset to the National Park, but
right now, most of it is flooded east of the Dune Park South Shore Line
“Many Porter County residents would like to see the Calumet Trail reach its
potential,” including over 800 people who have signed a recent Change.org
petition to prioritize funding for improvements. MacDougall inquired what,
if any, roadblocks are in the way of seeking state and federal grant funding
for the Trail.
The Calumet Trail
began as a Commissioners’ initiative in the late 90s. It was later turned
over for the County Parks Department to maintain, though NIPSCO owns the
Scott McClure responded that early engineering was done some time ago for
improvements to the Trail, but NIPSCO putting in a major pipeline on the
property and the South Shore line double-tracking project have made the old
engineering moot. “I’m not sure you can get much larger issues that have
changed since some of that original engineering has been done,” McClure
“Right now, what
we’re attempting to do is gather the information necessary to determine what
needs to change about the original planning now that we have those two
issues,” McClure said. “There is some grant money available; however, we
have a lot of issues to work through as far as the best possible solution
for the Calumet Trail.”
Both NIPSCO and
NICTD, the South Shore Line authority, will need access to the property for
maintenance, which means improvements will have to meet their
Jim Biggs (R), who was in office when the Trail was first developed, agreed
with McClure that the circumstances surrounding improvements to the Trail
are very different today, not just because of new projects, but also in
terms of materials costs.
with other communities throughout the state for that grant money, and the
state of Indiana can’t afford to wait until we get the answers we need
before we make a future investment there,” Biggs said about grant funding.
“There’s nobody up here” who doesn’t want to see improvements to the Calumet
Trail, “but like any organization, we’re limited in the amount of
resources.” The Commissioners will have to consider tough questions as new
information on the Trail comes to them in the next 60 to 90 days, according
“Is it a smart
investment that we’re going to make on behalf of the residents of Porter
County to put that kind of money on that length of Trail under those
circumstances? That’s what we also have to decide,” Biggs said. “It’s not an
In other business,
the Board honored two Highway Department employees for decades of service.
Guy Johnson, 25-year Highway Department veteran, and Harold Salyer, a
30-year veteran, were each given plaques and golden shovels.
911 Director Rob
Lanchsweerdt requested the Board approve a five-year renewal of the County’s
contract for providing RAVE mobile public safety alerts. The five-year
renewal is $53,735.40.
“More and more of
our community members are using mobile devices to communicate with us,”
Lanchsweerdt said. “This instantly provides information on who is calling.”
residents can make a profile when they sign up for mobile alerts so first
responders have important information about what to expect on a call. There
are 261 profiles so far.
cited low participation and the fact that changing technology could make
RAVE less useful in five years, and opted for the slightly more expensive
three-year renewal instead for $55,486.80. “I would just hate to see us
caught up in a contract that we want to get out of when we can’t,” Center
Commissioner Jeff Good(R) said.
The Board approved
a memorandum of understanding between the Memorial Opera House and the
Memorial Opera House Foundation for sharing marketing costs. Opera House
Director Scot MacDonald reported the Foundation is hosting several events
this year, and the MOU allows that the Opera House budget can be used to
help market those events. In turn, the Foundation will reimburse the Opera
House for the marketing costs using the proceeds of the events. McClure said
it was a win for everybody.
The Board approved
a professional services agreement with Shive-Hattery for $23,800 for
facilities master planning as the capital improvements projects wrap-up and
the County turns its attention to space utilization.
The Council also
conducted a first reading of an ordinance regarding potential conflicts of
interest in the building department. The ordinance is the result of a change
in state law requiring municipalities to record in their respective Codes
that building commissioners cannot approve building permits that they may
benefit from personally. No one spoke for or against the ordinance in a
public hearing. There will be a second reading at the next meeting.
The Board opened
bids for paving on North Calumet Road from Wesley Road to U.S. 6 and
Meridian Road from 600N to U.S. 6. Walsh & Kelly was deemed the low,
responsible bidder at $679,929.42. Highway Engineer Matt Gavelek reported
they will be milling and putting down two inches of fresh asphalt on N.
Calumet and one and a half inches on Meridian, as well as striping. One lane
will be open at all times.