Chesterton Tribune

Burns Harbor looks at options as private industrial road crumbles

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By PAULENE POPARAD

The Burns Harbor Town Council has asked town attorney Bob Welsh to research its legal options regarding what to do about crumbling Tech Drive.

Last month the president of Tech Business Center’s property owners association discussed with the council a needed $500,000 for its members to rebuild the private road; the POA was supposed to present an update to the council Wednesday, but no representative attended.

The council next meets July 13.

Town building commissioner and fire chief Bill Arney said the POA had stone placed in the craters that pit Tech Drive, but it’s washing out. According to town marshal Jerry Price, “They’re not pot holes; they’re pot valleys.” The stone was like putting a Band-aid on a bleeding artery, he added.

The council was not happy about being stood up by the POA. John Krowiarz of C.R. England trucking, a Tech Center business, was present to hear the discussion but was not an authorized POA spokesperson.

POA stonewalling can’t continue, said councilman Cliff Fleming. Added fellow member Mike Perrine, “All business owners down there need to know we’re not going to let the issue rest. The actions we could take are limited --- and drastic.”

It’s not uncommon to see vehicles driving in the grass, or eastbound semi-trucks driving in the westbound Tech Drive lane.

Arney and Price said they fear for their emergency personnel and equipment because of the condition of the two-lane road; the Town Council has discussed possibly closing it to the public.

Even if that happens, said Arney, firefighters and police still would have to respond to the business park when called.

Fleming, an attorney, asked Welsh to determine whether employees of the Tech Center businesses are considered “the public” or whether they have right of access to their employment at a POA location. Perrine questioned if the council really wants to put people out of work.

Also to be researched is POA documentation that should spell out members’ rights and responsibilities --- and whether they can withdraw rather than pay a share of the $500,000.

Arney could start writing violations for the unacceptable condition of the road, which is to be maintained in the condition it was at its final plat approval, but Perrine said it might be preferable to POA members to pay $5,000 in fines rather than $500,000.

Added Perrine, “I’m beginning to get the feeling we may need to take the road over and find some way of fixing it.” Fleming said the matter is clearly a safety issue and suggested possibly requiring the POA to post a bond assuring the road will be rebuilt to highway standards; if not, it’s closed.

When asked to make a recommendation, Welsh said he wasn’t in a position without knowing more details and knowing what policy decisions the council wants to make.

Council president Jim McGee didn’t rule out a special council meeting with POA members but said Welsh’s research needed to be in hand first.

In other business Wednesday:

•The council voted 4-0 with member Louis Bain absent to authorize up to four anti-mosquito sprayings around town this season at a cost of $460 per application.

•Following a lengthy discussion it was agreed clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan would request the actual petition and proposed order Indiana American Water Co. has filed seeking state permission to bill water customers directly for the fire hydrants their respective municipality leases. Burns Harbor pays the approximately $4,200 monthly rental from its general fund for 86 hydrants.

•The council voted unanimously to donate $2,200 and in-kind services of town employees for the July 1 community fireworks display at Indiana Dunes State Park.

•It was announced Lakeland Park is open this weekend, and as of June 13 lifeguarded swimming will be available daily for the season. The first children’s daycamp is June 20-24, and a new fire-safety camp in cooperation with the Fire Department is slated for July 21 and 22.

•Arney said June 25 the department will be soliciting donations, and in May firefighters responded to 18 calls spending 9 hours 43 minutes on-scene. Thirty-three firefighters spent a total 121 man-hours on training and station duty, while department vehicles traveled 828 miles.

•Price said last month the Police Department had 328 calls to service and responded to six vehicle crashes resulting in four property damage and two personal injury. Of 10 arrests, five each were for misdemeanors and felonies. Twenty-six tickets were written, 68 total verbal and warning tickets issued, and police vehicles traveled 6,227 miles.

•In addition to seasonal Street Department duties, superintendent Randy Skalku said his staff is working on a remodeling project in Jordan’s office after completing a remodel with Building Department employees of offices there.

•On final reading the council voted 4-0 to adopt an ordinance that regulates certain public assemblies by instituting a permit process.

•With several houses going up, Arney said he is going to begin issuing metal tags to affix on outdoor utility meters if a building is constructed using pre-manufactured lumber, which burns faster than conventional lumber. State officials are in the process of adopting similar language, some conflicting with Burns Harbor’s ordinance, but the town’s will remain in force until the state’s takes effect next year.

Arney is hoping to convince the state to use metal tags rather than stickers, which would be consumed in a fire.

Posted 6/9/2011