Chesterton Tribune



Town of Burns Harbor snags $1.78 million trails grant

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The Town of Burns Harbor was awarded a $1.78 million Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Next Level Trails grant, the Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission announced at its meeting last night.

RDC president Eric Hull reported Burns Harbor was one of 17 awardees chosen from a pool of 82 applications.

The RDC also got word that they’ve received $168,000 in grant funding from the IDNR Recreational Trails Program (RTP).

The additions mean that the Burns Harbor portion of the Marquette Greenway Trail is now fully-funded.

Burns Harbor’s portion of the Trail is a $4.9 million project, according to Karnerblue Consultant Tina Rongers, who has led the RDC’s efforts to obtain a total of $3.6 million in grants for the Trail.

The $1.78 million in Next Level Trails funding will cover construction of the Marquette Greenway from Ind. 149 west to the Town’s boundary with Portage. The RTP funding will go toward the Town connector section of the Greenway, which will begin at Ind. 149 and run along the northern property line of the Food Truck Square site and the 28-acres adjacent to it that the Town recently acquired from the Duneland School Corporation.

A Congestion, Mitigation, and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant from the Federal Highway Administration provided $1.65 million last year. The remaining $1.3 million will come from the RDC budget, which is funded by Tax Increment Financing (TIF) money.

Rongers reported the project is currently in the environmental review phase, with SEH Engineering conducting environmental surveys and studies that are expected to conclude with environmental approval in October. Preliminary engineering will be ready in June, Rongers said.

Hull reported the RDC will get with SEH next month to create a timeline for the project now that all the funding has come together.

In related business, the Town connector portion of the Trail will likely wind through a new Town center development on the combined 32-acres across Ind. 149 from the Town hall, which includes the four-acre Food Truck Square site and the former DSC parcel.

That parcel, now being called the “Westport Development Site,” will eventually be filled in with private investment solicited over the next year by Holladay Properties.

The RDC approved a Master Development Agreement with Holladay last night, after they were the most attractive option at the table following the RDC’s Request for Qualifications (RFQ) seeking a master developer last year. The agreement is not to exceed $48,000 for 12 months of guiding development on the Westport site, with an option to add additional months for $4,000 each.

Hull said, “I think the turning point for us is that Holladay is not working for us as much as they are working with us as a partner in it and not just an employee or somebody we’ve hired as a contractor.”

Hull said the Westport site has historically been a gathering place in Burns Harbor, and “The Town envisions a vibrant center where people can experience a Duneland community that is a harmonious blend of residential, commercial and industrial uses next to the Indiana Dunes National Park” in the new development.

Holladay is headquartered in South Bend, and is the same master developer behind the $160 million Ameriplex business park in Portage.

Holladay Properties Partner and Vice-president Mike Micka said Holladay Properties strives “to enrich communities through investment and service.

“We will assure that this is not a planning process but a pathway to development that grows tax base, creates jobs and improves quality of life,” Micka said.


Posted 5/9/2019




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