Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Burns Harbor residents can speak out on town capital improvement needs

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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 money.

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 viewed favorably.

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 commented.

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.





Posted 6/22/2010




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