Chesterton Tribune

Town tables decision on support for revived community 4th of July

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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.

Hospital banners

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 clearance.

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.

Billboard comment

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 Watershed Conservancy.

“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 petition.

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.



Posted 3/27/2012