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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.