Chesterton Tribune

Commissioners to vote on Dunes Lakeshore request to close roads

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The Porter County Board of Commissioners will convene for its regular meeting Tuesday with the intent of declaring which county roads will remain open to the public and which will be turned over to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for the use of trail development.

The meeting takes place at 2 p.m. inside the Porter County Commissioners’ Chambers.

Last month, the commissioners held a public hearing where more than 20 individuals voiced their opposition to the Lakeshore’s request to close the roads, citing safety concerns and inconvenience for residents living in the area who use the roads to get to work, homes and businesses.

Other remonstrations were voiced by Discovery Charter School officials who said under the request parents of students would only be able to access the school from U.S. 20, not having northern access on Tremont Road. The school raised its concern there will be congestion at the U.S. 20/Tremont intersection as traffic will be directed to Ind. 49.

Also attending the meeting last month, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Constantine Dillon said the roads were identified in the 1997 General Management Plan as roads which were tagged for closure once the residencies there are no longer occupied. Dillon said the last resident moved out in Fall 2010 giving the park the authorization to fulfill its purpose of closing the roads, converting them to trails and preserve the wetland areas.

The list of roads in the plan include Tremont Rd. -- the area north of the Discovery Charter School, Parkwood Ave., Dunewood Ave., Arab Drive, Dunewood St., Oakwood St., Elwood St., Poplar St., 50 East where it enters the park near Third St., Pottawatomie Rd., Hawleywood Rd. (north leg) and roads in the Pottawatomie Vista area.

Dillon said he would be willing to make modifications to the plan since the public view has changed.

Environmental groups such as Save the Dunes recommended the National Parks Service and the county study the request carefully to come to an agreement. Evans said he favored closing some of the roads but not all of them and told the Chesterton Tribune on Friday he has had the chance to meet with park officials on making closure decisions.

In a related matter, the National Lakeshore has talked about closing its portion of Furnessville Road which generated a good chunk of discussion at the public hearing. Neighbors said the road should be kept open for emergency services to use and access to the Schoolhouse Shop and Furnessville cemetery where it was said that 15 Civil War veterans are buried.

Dillon said the county agreed years ago to trade Furnessville Road in exchange for the land where the Dune Park train station was eventually built, but agreed to speak further with the current board of commissioners after hearing resident’s safety concerns.

Also on Tuesday, the commissioners will receive a bid recommendation for security system upgrades at the county Juvenile Service Center.

Expo Center Manager Brian Schafer will discuss possible fence repairs with the commissioners.

In plan commission business, Planning Director Robert Thompson will discuss a letter of support for a land trust grant. He will also ask the commissioners to consider approving the amendments to the Unified Development Ordinance regarding operations at commercial composting sites. There will also be a second reading for rezoning Brincka-Cross Gardens Park near Furnessville from a Rural Residential district to a Parks and Recreation district.

The Commissioners’ Chambers are in Room 205 of the Porter County Administration Building, 155 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso.


 Posted 4/30/2012