Chesterton Tribune



Burns Harbor RDC has eyes on Chesterton plan for fiber optics

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News that Chesterton is moving forward with a top-of-the-line fiber optic network (FON) for high speed and capable internet has captured the attention of the Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission which wants to get in on the action.

“I think it’s something we should look at because I think it will be a betterment for the town,” said the RDC’s new President Marcus Rogala.

Commission member Andy Bozak suggested talking with Chesterton town officials on possible ways the towns could partner. Having a FON here would be “huge” for attracting businesses, he said.

Marcus and RDC Vice-President Ray Poparad will try to set up a meeting, bringing with them the RDC’s Economic Director Joe Rurode.

The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission recently retained for $30,000 the Monroe Street Group, of Chicago, which presented a three-phase plan that would potentially make Chesterton one of the most attractive areas in Northwest Indiana for existing businesses and innovative start-ups.

Non-voting RDC member Ralph Ayres said the Porter County RDC received an informational presentation in the fall on reasons to bring fiber optics and high-speed connectivity to the county. The presenter concluded that Porter County is “behind the eight ball” as many areas aren’t able to receive the service.

All town councils seem to be looking at the prospects of having a FON, Ayres said.

Staff contracts

In the business portion of Wednesday’s meeting, the Commission unanimously agreed to hire Rurode as economic director and Tina Rongers as grants developer.

Keeping the same contracts as last year, Rurode will be paid $7,100 per month and Rongers $2,500 per month with no cap on the hours they can work.

Poparad asked Rongers if she would be available to seek grants on behalf of other departments with her contract. Rongers said she would have to first determine the scope of the work and make a proposal after that. She agreed to meet with department heads to hear their needs.

Meanwhile, the contract to extend services for another year with master developer plan consultant LiveWorkLearnPlay was tabled as suggested by Rogala in order to receive further information. Rogala however expressed his desire to continue working with LWLP which has delivered research and a business plan on how the town can expand its business economy.

“I like to keep things moving toward implementation. It justifies how things are moving,” he said, hoping to start implementing the plan this spring.

The RDC is thinking of having another “roundtable” discussion with last year’s RDC members to better decide how to proceed with a plan.

Business meet and greet

Biancardi proposed the idea of better getting acquainted with businesses in town by hosting a “meet-and-greet” event with the suggested date of Feb. 25 at the Duneland Falls banquet hall and meeting center on Ind. 149.

Poparad said he would like to see residents be invited too as it would allow them to hear about things happening in town.

The event would be geared toward growing the relationships between the Town and its businesses but the public could attend if they wish.

School funds

Later in the meeting, Ayres said the RDC is scheduled to make its next pay out to the Duneland School Corporation soon.

The RDC formed a ten-year agreement with the Corporation in Summer 2014 to share 15 percent of its property taxes collected from the tax increment finance redevelopment area to benefit the schools. Installments are due in August and February after the County settles the property tax draws.

Ayres said the next installment for the schools should be between $50,000 and $54,000.

From the audience, town resident Phyllis Constantine inquired as to how the school uses those funds.

Ayres replied the schools use them to fund educational programs that can lead to some kind of economic development. There is nothing in the agreement that restricts funding be used for a specific purpose, like purchasing textbooks for example, he said.


The RDC elected its officers for the year at a brief organization meeting Monday, with Rogala as president and Poparad as vice-president.

The current Town Council members currently make up the entire RDC board, but Rogala told the Chesterton Tribune that the Council plans to appoint citizens to the Commission in the near future.



Posted 1/15/2016




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