Chesterton Tribune

County Drainage Board approves footbridge in Little Cal nature preserve

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Nature lovers will stay drier as they tour the Little Calumet Wetlands Project.

The Shirley Heinze Land Trust received a stamp of approval from the Porter County Drainage Board on Monday to construct a 21-foot-long covered pedestrian bridge over the Kemper Ditch which is the county’s legal name for the Little Calumet River.

Heinze Trust Executive Director Kris Krouse told the drainage board the bridge will be east to west over the river that flows north to south. The bridge is to be a part of a proposed walking trail that will run close to the ditch.

Krouse said the bridge is to give access to the berm on the other side of Little Calumet where visitors can observe the natural features of the wetlands.

The Heinze Trust received a Letter of No Objection from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after a representative reviewed the project location. Krouse said the project is also in agreement with the Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke said Krouse has signed off on a hold-harmless agreement meaning that if any damage to the bridge should occur, the Heize Trust would hold responsibility and no repercussions would go back to the county.

“It seems to have the best intentions,” said board president Dave Burrus.

Plans show that the covered bridge will arch slightly upward and will be constructed out of timber structures.

The bridge will be located near the west side of the Little Calumet Wetlands Project near the Brummitt Elementary School in Westchester Twp.

Krouse told the Tribune he hopes to start bridge construction later this week and does not anticipate it will be too long before the bridge will be in use. He said the Heinze Trust also wants to make canoeing and kayaking available on the river.

The Little Calumet Wetlands is approximately 30 acres and the goal is to set up a nature preserve for fishing, boating, hiking, and educational activities. Part of the land’s purchase was funded by the NiSource Charitable Foundation, parent company of the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO). The company granted the Heinze Trust $50,000 in the summer of 2009.

Also on Monday, the board progressed with some agreements regarding a 30-acre property on CR 1050N adjacent to the Brassie Golf Course.

The board in October asked that swales be placed on the property to move stormwater across three ten-acre lots that would drain into a ditch near the golf course connected to the Gustafson Ditch.

The property’s owner, Charles Coker, wants to use the lots for agricultural purposes like hobby farms, said planner John Hannon who is presenting Coker’s case.

Breitzke along with Hannon drainage board member Ed Gutt met recently to talk about the offsite outlet.

The board asked that golf course create an easement to tie into the Gustafson Ditch. The board is also looking to make improvements to a drainage tile along Pearson Rd.

A representative from the Brassie Golf Course said the golf course may help with fixing the tile which would also require additional standpipe, but was not sure if the business had the financial ability to oblige the county on the plan.

The drainage board tabled the case until next month to get a better understanding on the tile work that is to be done. The board may consult the Town of Chesterton on creating outlets for the water.

Burrus said they want to work out a plan that would be beneficial to the golf course, the Coker property and the adjacent property owners.



Posted 10/19/2010