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Marquette Greenway Trail moves forward in Burns Harbor

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission is keeping the wheels turning on its link in the 50-mile Marquette Greenway Trail.

The RDC agreed Wednesday to have the engineering consulting firm SEH Inc. develop a scope of work for the first phase, between North Babcock Rd. and Ind. 149. The agreement also calls for exploring the costs and strategies for Phase 2 of the trail, which will be a longer stretch between Ind. 149 and Ameriplex in Portage.

Tina Rongers, who has been working as the RDC’s grants developer, said the funding for the first phase is in place with a CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement) grant through the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.

The Town’s match is 10 percent of the grant funds, said RDC President Marcus Rogala. According to the Town’s Master Development and Revitalization Plan, the total cost of the first phase between Babcock Rd. and Ind. 149 is $2,064,929.

An economic impact study done in 2008 said the Trail would serve as an economic catalyst for the Town, with a projected $90 million in future development and an increased tax base of $2.8 million. It will connect the Town with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and other towns on its network.

Before the work can move forward, there must be a Local Public Agency contract reached between the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Town of Burns Harbor. Town Attorney Clay Patton said he had not seen the contract before the meeting but the RDC voted 5-0 to accept the contract once Patton completes his review of it.

Rongers said LPA contracts are standard agreements for INDOT projects.

SEH is under contract for the project but the engineering plans will need to approved by the Town’s engineering consultant Global Engineering, said RDC member Toni Biancardi.

Rogala said that the RDC in September voted to accept the contract with SEH. Town Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan sitting in on the meeting said she had not yet received a copy of the signed contract. Rogala said he would get it to her after the meeting.

“We need to start moving forward,” said Rogala. “Phase one is ready. We just haven’t done anything yet.”

Ind. 149 relinquishment

Meanwhile, Rogala said that the INDOT is willing to “hand over” the stretch of Ind. 149 between U.S. 20 and U.S. 12 to the town to develop a downtown area but the Town will be responsible for the costs of maintaining the roads.

INDOT will however still be responsible for maintenance of the bridges, he said.

Rogala said the Town does “not have enough” currently for INDOT to relinquish it now. More planning is needed with how it would “dress up” or configure the new downtown, such as putting in a crosswalk at Ind. 149 and Westport Rd.

RDC member Andy Bozak asked if the Town would be able to get more funding from the state to help support the maintenance. Rogala said if that is so, the funding would likely go to the County first which then would distribute it to the Town.

Rongers talked about developing the area in a phased approach and seeking out different grant funds for pedestrian friendly features.

The purpose of the Ind. 149 relinquishment is so the Town can control speed limits and traffic to make the downtown safer and more attractive to residents and visitors. The RDC this past summer launched its Food Truck Square at Westport Rd. and Haglund Rd. as the first major step towards creating the downtown.

Study impact meeting

The RDC will plan a workshop tentatively in December to discuss the results of its leadership impact study.

The study is an internal survey of RDC members’ priorities for the upcoming year. The Commission will publicly discuss the results of the survey and try to come to a consensus on which priorities to focus on.

Bozak said the workshop should take place at a special meeting of the RDC because it is likely the discussion will take up more than an hour. The RDC’s regularly meets for an hour before the Town Council meetings.

Website

In other reports, Communications Director Danielle Ziulkowski showed new enhancements she has made to the Town’s website.

The site, http://www.burnsharbor-in.gov/, features more in its Business & Development pages with “A Better Burns Harbor” press releases focusing on local business

“It’s making the town look business friendly for all the new guys that want to come in,” Ziulkowski said.

The Food Truck Square page has been updated to provide interested vendors for the 2017 season an application and information about sponsorships. The pages now have original photographs from the actual events instead of stock photos, Ziulkowski pointed out.

It is easier now for residents using the site to find contact information for their elected officials. Council members have their own contact and bio pages.

 

 

Posted 11/11/2016

 
 
 
 

 

 

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