Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Burns Harbor Town Council sees green infrastructure plan

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Fishing in Burns Harbor. Birding. Biking.

Beaching?

Maybe.

At the Town Council’s meeting Wednesday night, Eric Neague of Weaver Boos Consultants presented a “green infrastructure plan” designed not only to enhance residents’ quality of life but also to make the town more attractive as an economic-development site.

“Burns Harbor is right at the center of the quality-of-life economy,” Neague said, both geographically and, so to speak, trendwise, as high-tech firms look for places to re-locate where their demanding employees can find attractive amenities, and as birders, bikers, paddlers, and anglers look for places to pursue their hobbies and spend money.

Hence the green infrastructure plan.

Among its highlights:

* A ADA-compliant fishing access to the Little Calumet River, perhaps from the Ind. 149 overpass.

* A network of hike and bike trails connecting the town’s neighborhoods but also the town to other town’s via the Prairie Duneland Trail.

* Gateway and wayfinding signage at strategic locations. “Burns Harbor has to announce itself,” Neague said.

* And--possibly--acess to Lake Michigan from the Bailly Generating Station property in unincorporated Westchester Township, east of the ArcelorMittal mill. “This is a very real thing to keep on the horizon,” Neague said, “to keep in your conversation.” The nature of the power industry is changing “radically,” he noted, and at some not-too-distance point there could be beach access from that site.

The point of the green infrastructure plan isn’t to lock the town into any particular strategy or vision but rather to give granting agencies “a sense of where you want to go,” when the town applies for funding to bring components of the plan to life. “No one really understands anything if it’s in your head,” Neague said. “On paper it becomes real.”

“The obstacle isn’t money so much as putting a vision together that someone can grasp,” he added.

“By having a plan on paper, we have a specific focus,” Member Gene Weibl said. “It’s what (grant-ing agencies) want to see.”

 

Posted 3/24/2014