What do Burns Harbor residents think the town needs in the way of future
capital equipment and facilities improvements?
They’ll get their chance to tell the Town Council, which set a special input
session for July 13 at 6:30 p.m. To be covered are suggestions for
stormwater, sanitary sewer and the fire, police, street and park
departments. Other suggestions will be welcome.
Council members conducted a workshop Monday with Hesham Khalil of town
engineer Global Engineering and Land Surveying as well as with town
department heads to assemble a tentative wish list; the goal is that once
capital needs are defined, grant opportunities can be sought out to find the
Suggestions ranged from a pedestrian overpass across five-lane Indiana 149
to a sidewalk along Haglund Road. Commented Khalil, “This meeting is
designed for input, not solutions. We’ll get to that point later.” The final
capital list will be prioritized. “That’s the idea so if some grant comes up
these will be in front of us.”
Following a discussion of street improvements Councilman Mike Perrine asked
Khalil to meet with officials in Chesterton and Porter to discuss a possible
joint project to widen and improve drainage along South Babcock Road, for
which all three jurisdictions share a portion. Perrine said widening the
road south to County Road 1050N would provide a good alternate route and if
the three towns made a grant application jointly, that fact likely would be
As for the Burns Harbor capital wish list, fire chief Bill Arney, town
marshal Jerry Price and street superintendent Randy Skalku all said they
need additions to their respective buildings. Council member Toni Biancardi
said the Park Board, which plans to develop its own list next month, has
talked about having a larger community building for public rental.
Councilman Jim McGee said someday maybe a joint project with Westport
Community Club, which owns vacant property, could be explored.
When it came to the Sanitary Department superintendent Arney said the town
needs an additional lift station now; it currently has six. Groundwater
inflow and infiltration studies also are needed to remove that water so it
is not transported to and treated at the town’s sewage-treatment plant. The
department also needs a vacuum truck, preferably with sewer video-camera
capability, and back-up generators and portable pumps.
Biancardi asked if the treatment plant, located at the ArcelorMittal
steelmaking facility, would need to be expanded. Khalil said there is excess
capacity now and that the regulatory trend is toward regional sanitary
plants. Perrine said adding a holding pond would ease capacity needs and
allow for retention of effluent that needs to be tested.
When it comes to stormwater, Perrine said most underground storm sewers were
put in 30 years ago and maintenance’s hardly been done. Swales in the
Haglund Road area of the Stanley subdivision also need to be cleaned, it was
agreed, and both standing water and a culvert washing away need to be
addressed on West North Boo Road.
Although it’s being addressed, drainage improvements on Westport Drive were
listed, as was constant ponding at the U.S. 20 entrance to the former
Standard Plaza truck stop. The south side of Old Porter Road just west of
Babcock Road needs attention, and although it’s a private road Tech Drive
has no stormwater system along it, it was noted. When the town comes under
the federal MS4 stormwater mandate, a street sweeper will be needed to
prevent debris from washing into waterways.
Skalku said the Street/Maintenance Department needs more indoor storage and
he suggested enclosing an existing open-bay building. Also listed was a
mid-size dump truck, leaf collection equipment although where to take the
leaves wasn’t resolved, and paving Old Porter Road and widening Coan, Castle
and Stanley streets.
Arney said the Fire Department has outgrown the fire station and he
recommended a 30-foot addition to more than double the training/dayroom,
which he said also could function as a community center when needed. Khalil
said sometimes grants are more readily available for a new fire station.
Other requests included a new water tanker replacing the 1982 truck now in
use, and a boat for the department dive team.
Also suggested was a flashing red light at Iroquois Trail and Indiana 149
where the Fire Department vehicles exit.
Price said the Police Department needs new computer hardware and software,
an expansion of the police station in the town hall, police cars, noise
dampers on the outdoor firing range and communications equipment. McGee
asked if it would help if the town built a new town hall, but no one
Khalil said a trend is for communities to build shared maintenance buildings
so departments don’t duplicate costs.
When it came to discussion of how the town would fund construction of a
hike/bike trail system including spurs into various neighborhoods, Perrine
said the ongoing maintenance and patrol cost has to be considered also.
Khalil said if the town’s tax-increment financing or TIF district is
expanded or another TIF zone created to include the trails, TIF money could
be used to maintain them.
The town’s Redevelopment Commission has engaged a consultant to determine
the feasibility and advisability of TIF expansion with a report due next
month. TIF revenue is generated from a portion of property taxes captured
for the commission’s use.