Chesterton Tribune



Burns Harbor RDC planning gateway park at Westport site

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The assembly permit for the Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission’s Food Truck Square was approved on Wednesday for 2017 and the RDC is now talking about the next step in creation of a “gateway park” on the four-acre Westport Rd. site.

Scott Kutcha, of the Town’s engineering firm Global Engineering, presented a conceptual plan based on the suggestions made by the RDC earlier this year, and the strategic development plan by consultant LiveWorkLearnPlay.

With a projected cost of about $1 million, the plans show a new triangular entrance and exit on Westport Rd. that would flow into a curved boulevard leading into a parking lot on the east end of the site.

In the middle would be the park itself with four spots for circular seating, a park shelter with a canopy, berm landscaping and a small sledding hill, a flag pole and an optional light and water feature.

Closer to Haglund Rd. on the west side of the parking area is where an amphitheater could go which Kutcha said would be a cost-effective way to create seating for community events. He also talked about putting in concrete sidewalks on the site.

There will be some space to the north where the RDC can still hold its food truck square, he added.

The main idea would be to develop an entrance to the 25 acres to the west that would serve as the future downtown area, Kutcha said. The Town signed a three-year purchase agreement in February to acquire the land from the Duneland School Corporation, the parcel’s current owner, for $242,500 total.

“There has been a whole host of ideas over the years and last few months about the future of this four-acre site. There are things that could really ground this and make this place a real asset for community,” said Kutcha.

RDC President and Town Council member Marcus Rogala said last month that there are no definite plans for the adjacent 25 acres. The Town cannot develop the land until it is fully acquired in 2019.

Food Truck season

Rogala said the schedule for the 2017 season of the Food Truck Square is complete. A copy is on the Burns Harbor Food Truck Square’s Facebook Page.

Vendors will be offering food on Wednesday nights through June, July, August, and part of September, with a few special events on the weekends. The last event will be the Brew-Ah brewfest on Nov. 11 to support veterans.

Five vendors are signed and there is interest from others, Rogala said. He is also looking for businesses interested in sponsoring the events.

The RDC agreed 4-0 to pay $800 to have a tent at the upcoming Northwest Indiana Food Truck Festival in Portage on Saturday, June 17 to talk with more vendors.

In a related matter, the RDC, with the support of the Town Council, will submit a grant application to the Porter County Community Foundations Art grant for up to $5,000. If successful, the grant would fund having a local graffiti artist create signage for the Square.

Marquette Greenway Trail

Earlier in the meeting, the RDC looked at different routes where the planned Marquette Greenway Trail could go as it reaches the Little Calumet River near U.S. 12 and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Engineer Adam Higgins of SEH Inc. said there is a north route and a south route that could be built. An engineering study revealed the north route presents a lot of challenges due to wetlands.

Both routes would likely require an inclined board walk over the river since the elevation difference between the south and north embankments is about 30 feet.

The south route would have some advantages but would be initially more costly, about $500,000 extra. Because there aren’t as many crossings moving forward with the south route, it is likely to save money in the long run.

The Town has been working with the Northwest Indiana Regional Plan Commission and other municipalities like Portage and Porter to provide a 80/20 match for a grant to fund the development of the Trail.

After a long discussion, the RDC agreed 4-0 to choose the south route. RDC member and Town Council member Eric Hull said he liked it that the route would tie in closer to the trails in the Town of Porter and not having to build a bridge over the Norfolk railroad.

Absent Wednesday was RDC member Nick Loving.

Higgins said he appreciates the consensus as he is working on a schedule to complete assessments this summer and he can now begin discussing the route with NIRPC and the National Lakeshore.

“This is going to make this month a lot easier. Thank you,” he said.

Rain barrels

Meanwhile, Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction District Director Therese Haller gave the RDC two large rain barrels it received from the Community Rain Barrel Demonstration grant, through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Lake Michigan Coastal Grant.

The barrels are to be placed in green space areas and educate the public on water management. The RDC can keep them as long as they complete annual reports, Haller said.

Next meeting

The RDC will meet on Wednesday, June 7, next month since the Town Council meeting was also moved to that date.



Posted 5/12/2017




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