The Burns Harbor
Redevelop-ment Commission heard plans at its meeting Wednesday night to
energize and diversify activity at the Food Truck Square.
The Indiana Arts
Commission (IAC) has awarded Burns Harbor a 50-hour creative placemaking
consultancy to assist the town with marketing and event-planning at the Food
Truck Square. The IAC began the grant program--the Open Scene
consultancy--to help communities across Indiana incorporate art and culture
into public spaces, and Burns Harbor is one of 13 municipalities awarded a
Julie Warren, a
marketing professional and native of Bloomington, will be paid by the IAC to
spend 50 hours researching and collaborating with Karnerblue LLC consultant
Tina Rongers and Commission President Marcus Rogala to plan new initiatives
for Food Truck Square.
three goals for her consultancy in a handout to the commission: building
support and engagement for Food Truck Square, incorporating arts and culture
into Food Truck Square, and better marketing of Food Truck Square.
Among other things,
Warren wants to explore creating a volunteer committee of residents who will
help with events, by surveying visitors and businesses for feedback on
events, marketing with social media blitzes, and meeting with the Porter
County Convention, Recreation, and Visitors Commission. She emphasized that
the nearby Dunes are a unique opportunity since they attract so many
visitors in the warmer months. “It would be wonderful to capitalize on that
and get some of those people in Burns Harbor,” Warren said.
At least 40 hours
of Warren’s consultancy will be spent in Burns Harbor, and she will deliver
written recommendations on Feb. 1.
In other business,
the commission approved a $10,000 increase in its contract with engineering
consulting firm SEH to cover the cost of additional field investigation on
the proposed route of the Burns Harbor portion of the Marquette Greenway. In
correspondence to Rogala, SEH Project Manager Adam Higgins wrote that a
subconsultant of SEH, Soil Solutions Inc., has completed the wetland field
investigation for the site of Phase 1 of the trail, between North Babcock
Road and Ind. 49. Phase 2 of the trail, between Ind. 49 and Portage,
however, will require more legwork.
One option is to
keep the path on Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore property for its full
length, but Soil Solutions has found highly saturated soil that is not
conducive to construction along Phase 2 of the route. The contract increase
will cover the cost of a wetland investigation on a portion of ArcelorMittal
property, which could prove a better site for construction. Rogala is
hopeful that ArcelorMittal may be willing to donate an easement or acreage
for the project, as the property in question is currently for sale.
The town will
consider new information after the investigation on Phase 2 is complete to
decide if a change in the alignment of the trail is needed. According to
Rogala, changing the alignment should be done sooner rather than later to
save money on difficult construction and maintenance.
Dan Botich of SEH
was again present to discuss a Business Incentive Program that could promote
commerce in town. The program’s focus: to encourage light manufacturing
especially and develop strategies to help local business owners expand and
sustain their work.
The plan will lay
out levels of incentives available to businesses of different sizes.
Incentives could be in the form of tax increment financing or tax
“The program allows
for a guiding strategy for economic development,” said Botich, who’s been
working on the plan with Karnerblue consultant Rongers.