The Porter County Commission-ers voted 2-1 Tuesday to endorse a partnership
sought by the Chester-ton Town Council to extend utility lines outside of
Town Council and redevelopment commission member Jeff Trout lead a
discussion continued from November about extending water, sewer and fiber
optic lines along the Ind. 49 corridor.
Originally, the town said the county could contribute $2 million in county
CEDIT money to a $6 million project, but with some recent adjustments, Trout
estimates the county will only need to put up $900,000 to continue the
utilities south of the Chesterton border past the east side of the hospital.
The Chesterton town limit is CR 900N near the CSX railroad. The additional
land to be served in the unincorporated area would be approximately 400
Trout said the plan does not include the new Porter hospital itself since it
has chosen Damon Run Conservancy District as its utility provider. At the
request of Portage Mayor James Snyder, the proposal does not include the
adjacent 100-acre St. Andrews development which will also be served by the
by Damon Run, Trout said.
The project has been lauded by Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas, but the city has
not yet shown interest in continuing the utility corridor past U.S. 6.
Trout said Chesterton has spent four years fleshing out the plan, shortly
after Porter announced they would build their new hospital at the Ind. 49
and U.S. 6 intersection.
It was easy to assume more companies would be driven to the area, Trout
said, and to accommodate them, the “tools” need to be in place.
“Without utilities, the jobs don’t come, can’t come,” he said.
Trout asked the commissioners to consider the matter quickly so the Town of
Chesterton could get to work by summer collecting bids, with or without the
County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, who put the proposal on
the agenda, said the commissioners would need to seek the $900,000 needed
from the county council. He plans to approach the council jointly with the
town on March 27.
Evans also ordered a public hearing before the council meets.
Evans commented the county has done similar projects for towns in the past
such as a drainage project for the town of Kouts.
“This is something that we should be looking at and help the
municipalities,” he said. “I think it’s something that county government is
charged to do.”
Evans approved the measure with fellow Republican Commissioner Nancy Adams,
who represents the county’s center district.
Dissenting was Commissioner Carole Knoblock, D-South, who felt it unfair to
push ahead a major development project without consulting the existing
residents and businesses. She also said “no” for similar reasons to a
related item on Tuesday where the county redevelopment commission could
incorporate a TIF district around the hospital site (see related story).
Trout said the hospital has already inspired 180 “real, good-paying jobs” to
Chesterton with the St. Anthony Health and Emergency Center and the new
assisted living facility on Dickinson Road.
“It’s a direct result of the hospital’s $280 million investment in our
county,” said Trout, who believes the future growth will benefit everyone
He said the county can still seek a $2.7 million grant from the Northwest
Indiana Regional Development Authority to help with the project.