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Plans advance for 2017 season of Burns Harbor food truck square

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The food truck square put together by the Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission will start its sophomore year this summer.

RDC President Marcus Rogala said he is planning for the first food truck event to be in June after the school year is done. The square is located where the former Westport Community Center was at the corner of Haglund Rd. and Ind. 149.

At its meeting Wednesday, the Commission lined up three Food Truck events. Returning is “The Badge and You” law enforcement appreciation night on Aug. 28 and the Brews, Blues and BBQ Festival on Sept. 16

In November, Rogala wants to add a festival around Veteran’s Day similar to the Town of Porter’s Perfect Pint. He and Leroy Flores, owner of Leroy’s Hot Stuff, have started collaborating and intend for the event to raise money for veterans.

With Burns Harbor not yet having anything unique to support veterans unlike neighboring towns, Rogala this would start a tradition and give the town more recognition.

“We want to make it unique for the area to get people to come” Rogala said, adding that it won’t interfere with other brew festivals that take place earlier in the year.

RDC member Eric Hull said planning ahead this far will improve the chances the event will go well.

Rogala said now is the best time to speak with food vendors before they start filling their schedules for the summer.

Coordinator

Meanwhile, the RDC received an application for the coordinator position for the food truck square from Abigail Thayer. Thayer, who said she has done event planning in Michigan City and has some food truck experience, was at the meeting to discuss her application with the commission.

Thayer sees potential in the opportunity to have events at the site, whether it be the Food Truck days or a weekly market.

“People are wanting to be a part of something new and this is exciting,” she said.

Thayer offered three different tiers of services but the RDC members said they wanted Town Attorney Clay Patton to review her proposed contract. The question of compensation was debated; whether the RDC should pay a lump sum per month plus expenses, or pay based on the fees collected from the vendors.

Rogala said the Commission last year charged a $50 per vendor for the season to start off. Thayer suggested the focus be on growing the Food Truck Square with more vendors this year and get them to come back next year when it may be a better time to have fees.

The RDC’s goal is not to make profits but to further develop the town and community, Hull said. The criticism by some residents however is that the RDC has “spent a lot of money and not much has happened,” he said, and this gives a chance to start seeing results.

RDC Consultant Tina Rongers said the Town needs programming to get visitors interested in coming to Burns Harbor and create a sense of place. Thayer’s proposal includes a lot of the things that have been talked about, she said.

The RDC ultimately decided to hold off on contracting with Thayer until it has time to better review the proposal. Rogala said a special meeting may be held before the RDC’s March meeting to vote on the agreement since vendors may be starting to fill their calendars.

Marquette Trail update

The RDC also tabled a supplement letter of agreement for the development of the Marquette Greenway Trail with SEH Inc.

Dan Botich and Adam Higgins from SEH said that there can be a cost savings if work for Phase 1 and Phase 2 are done concurrently instead of individually to expedite development.

Phase 1 starts at North Babcock Rd. in Porter and will travel west one mile to Ind. 149 near Westport Rd. and Phase 2 continues westward from Ind. 149 two miles to the Ameriplex Development in Portage, making Burns Harbor the focal point of the Trail, Botich said.

The Marquette Greenway will tie into state trails from Illinois and Michigan, as well as having connections from Gary, the Dunes Park South Shore Station and Michigan City. SEH, which has been hired to do the design engineering, has reached out to the National Park Service for an additional opportunity to take the trail through the National Lakeshore, Botich said.

To do that would require more environmental assessments, he and Higgins said, looking closely at planning documents, contours and land use. The environmental assessments can be done in preparation for development of the two phases, beginning as early as 2020.

The costs would fall within those projected for Phase 1 at a little over $2 million. Most of that will be paid by a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grant with a ten percent match from the Town.

The supplemental agreement would take care of the work between now and the time the project breaks ground, Botich said.

Rogala asked that the Commission table the agreement to give members the chance to study it more carefully. Botich said he apologizes for not presenting it sooner but he wanted to make sure to speak with the NPS to get a better cost estimate including the environmental assessments.

Money for Schools

At the beginning of the meeting, the Commission received a letter from Town Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan informing them that the next installment of funds (TIF) is due to the Duneland Schools this month.

The payment will be $43,490. Installments are due semi-annually in February and August.

Per the RDC’s ten-year agreement signed in 2014, 15 percent of TIF revenues collected are passed on to the schools to promote economic development.

 

Posted 2/10/2017

 
 
 
 

 

 

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