It may be just a matter of $300, but a budget-crunched Chesterton Town
Council could not find the confidence Monday to grant a joint request by the
Porter Parks Department and the Duneland Business Initiative Group (DBIG) on
giving to this year’s Family 4th (of July) Fest.
Porter Park Board member Rondi Wightman and DBIG Vice-President Laura Layman
said their groups along with the Chesterton Lions Club launched the festival
last year at Porter’s Hawthorne Park and were overwhelmed by requests to
repeat the event. The itinerary includes a pancake breakfast hosted by the
Lions, a parade through Porter, a “turtle derby” followed by games, food
vendors, a beer garden and a fireworks show at dusk.
Wightman said the event is free and great entertainment for families on a
budget or just looking for something to do together.
“We’re doing all we can to make this a great family event,” she said.
Layman said the crowds during the day ranged from 600 to 800 attendees. She
said the festival rekindles memories of years ago when Chesterton, Porter
and Burns Harbor would host tri-town Fourth of July festivities.
The event was funded last year from private donations and due to the large
turnout of residents all around Duneland, the hosts decided to ask each town
if they would consider contributing $300 to $500 along with an additional
request to provide a security officer.
Council members said they planned to give to a separate event, the fireworks
show at the lake front put on by the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of
Commerce. Town Clerk-Treasurer Gale Polakowski said each town budget had to
be cut back and the town has allotted no more than $1,000 on promotions.
Chesterton Police Chief David Cincoski said there may potentially be
conflicts in finding officers to work security since many of them would be
working the Chamber’s fireworks event the same week.
Council members Sharon Darnell and Jeff Trout acknowledged “it’s a wonderful
request” but reiterated budget woes. However, Council member Jim Ton made
the argument the festival stands to benefit Chesterton residents and
suggested the board take the request under consideration.
“I just don’t think it’s fair for them to entertain our citizens without us
putting up some of the freight,” Ton said.
The board agreed to revisit the matter. Ton and Trout suggested the town
could help in other ways such as promoting the event on the town’s website.
Pending approval by Chesterton town attorney Chuck Lukmann, the council was
willing to accept a request by Porter Hospital to hang two vinyl banners
promoting the hospital at the clinic soccer fields on Dickinson Road.
Porter’s chief nursing officer Taffy Arias said the hospital’s Chesterton
Medical Campus plans to place a 4”x 8” banner that will face Porter Avenue
and a larger 8” x 16” that will face Ind. 49.
Arias said she has checked town signage codes and said the hospital will
abide by the rule to keep the signs hanging no more than 21 days at a time.
She said the banners would be put up regularly starting April 1 through Oct.
1 this year if the town approves.
Ton said he didn’t see any concern but was not fully aware of the town’s
requirements for signs and referred the matter to the town attorney for
Arias said that the hospital would take “100 percent of the responsibility”
for putting up the ads and they will not be at any cost to the town.
During the public comment portion, resident Marjorie Crawford spoke to the
council on the topic of erecting LED signs on Ind. 49.
Crawford said this “town has done so many things right” and asked the board
to keep Ind. 49 “special” by not letting the billboards spoil the town’s
attractions such as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Coffee Creek
“There will be loud voices clamoring for equal opportunity. But the highway
is still beautiful and natural,” she said.
The Chesterton BZA was to hear a petition last week by Lamar Advertising to
locate an LED billboard in the area last week, but the company withdrew the
In other business:
• The council signed off on an amendment to the 2012-2013 Salary Ordinance
for the recently established town safety committee. The committee will have
a member from each of the town’s nine departments and would earn 25 cents
per hour. Ton said the safety measures should save the town thousands of
dollars in reduced insurance premiums.
• Chesterton’s Utility Service Board was commended for its long term plan to
reduce combined sewer overflows by constructing a 1.2-million gallon storage
tank. The move was highlighted in a newsletter by the Save the Dunes.
• Ton said he has been selected by the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning
Commission (NIRPC) to be one of the seven members of search committee to
find a successor for retiring executive director John Swanson. “It will be
hard to find someone to fill his shoes,” Ton said.