Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Citizens at drainage forum anxious for improvements

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Pine Township resident Lawrence Andersen was one of at least 60 residents who aired drainage concerns at Monday’s public drainage forum at the Westchester Library Service Center located in downtown Chesterton.

Andersen said the condition of the pond in his backyard is worsening as it continues to rise onto his property costing thousands of dollars in damage to red oak trees whose roots are submerged under pond water.

Andersen and neighbor William Malackowski, who live along CR 1200N, said the county has not yet stepped in to stabilize the encroaching water after they contacted the county last year about the matter.

Malackowski said the pond in his front yard is washing over his driveway.

“In the twenty-one years we have resided (there), we have not seen the pond up that high,” said Andersen’s wife, Mary. “It just keeps getting worse.”

On hand at the forum was Porter County Drainage Board President Dave Burrus who talked with the Andersens and Malackowski. The pond is suspected have a filled tile that was put in by someone who wanted to use the pond possibly for duck hunting before the Andersens moved in, Burrus said.

Final Forum

Monday concluded a series of four public forums the county held to collect input for the countywide comprehensive drainage plan that aims to lessen the impact flooding has on the area and prevent future flooding and stormwater drainage problems. Also at the forum were representatives from DLZ Indiana and SEH who are teaming with the county on the study. The input will be used for analysis that will take the project to the next step which is conducting site reviews of concentrated areas, said Tony Kenning of DLZ.

Voices from all around Porter County were present Monday evening.

Ken Pitchford of Valparaiso asked questions on what the county’s plans are for the flooding common along Flint Lake where he lives.

From Hebron, small-farm owner Harold Taylor said he has experienced water problems on his property ever since the nearby Park Place subdivision was put in. He also said the area becomes flooded at times due to its proximity to the Kankakee River. Taylor said he had attended three of the forums to show county representatives pictures of his flooding troubles through the years.

Pope O’Connor

Most participants were from the north county area including Westchester resident Bonnie Thanos who wanted to ask what the county’s plans are for drainage control along the Pope O’Connor ditch which flooded in 2008. Trees were cleared away later in May 2009.

“I just wanted to see what’s next,” said Thanos.

New Hospital?

Liberty Township residents Phil and Linda Ford, who were the last residents interviewed for the public input forums, said their concern is with the new hospital that is to be built a half-mile away from their property off of U.S. 6 near where Ind. 49 intersects. They have already been afflicted with drainage woes since the Timberland subdivision was put in a few years ago. Water has damaged their drywall and carpet, they said, and they have had to frequently use a sump pump to drain the water.

Others said “bad neighbors” are to blame for drainage problems.

Blocked Drains Blamed

Porter County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke said that it was not necessarily excessive rains that have caused recent drainage hang-ups but blockage damming up drains and sewers.

He said Porter County experienced severe windstorms in 2007 that knocked down trees throughout the area and when the county was hit in 2008 with three big storms, the blockages caused the areas to flood. Flooding also occurred in 2009 during a very wet spring.

Burrus, who is also the director of the drainage study, said he was very pleased with the cooperation shown by county residents and appreciated the respect shown during all four public forums, recognizing the “significance” of the study. He said a total of nearly 250 showed up, nearly 60 to 80 on average per forum. The previous sessions were held at the Porter County Expo Center, the Boone Grove High School Cafeteria, and the South Haven American Legion.

Engineer Scott Virtue, who owns property in Chesterton, complimented the county’s efforts to get a good report and said that the timing for the study was well-chosen now that emotions are not as high as they had been in recent years.

Next Step

Burrus said the drainage committee will now be meeting with towns and cities to see if there is any overlap in their information where drainage problems have been reported. The committee will also be talking with county departments associated with drainage such as the plan commission and the highway department to pinpoint afflicted areas.

How to Comment

Residents living in unincorporated areas who were not able to attend the forums can still mail their questionnaires to the Porter County Plan Commission office (155 Indiana Ave., Suite 304, Valparaiso, 46383). Mike Jabo of DLZ Indiana said of the 27,000 questionnaires that were mailed out, 1,100 has so far been returned.

 

 

Posted 5/4/2010

 

 

 

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