Chesterton Tribune

Chesterton Town Council supports reopening of Chellberg Farm

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Noting the historical and cultural significance of the Chellberg Farm, the Chesterton Town Council on Monday endorsed a resolution calling on the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to reopen the working farm.

The resolution was presented by Chesterton Town Council member Jim Ton, who said he fears that the community has lost one of its greatest assets with the end of the historical farm.

“For years, the farm has been an educational experience for students in the entire Duneland area,” states the resolution, which Ton read at Monday’s town council meeting. “Where the community is concerned it has been a constant reminder of our heritage, a real piece of history come to life. To lose it means we have lost a portion of who we are.”

Ton’s resolution goes on to say that the community’s roots are agrarian, but that growth and change have affected people’s understanding of the farming experience.

“Before there was a state park or steel mills, before there was a Wizard or a water park, there was a Chellberg Farm,” Ton read.

“Farming at Chellberg was a part of our roots. We can never fully understand who we are collectively or individually until we understand where we have been,” he said.

The other town council members agreed by consensus to send a letter to National Lakeshore Superintendent Constantine Dillon to revise the plan for the farm and reconsider the closing of the farming operations. Those in agreement were council president Emerson DeLaney, Jeff Trout, and Sharon Darnell. Absent was Dave Cincoski.

The Chellberg Farm ceased its farming operations earlier this year, after the farm animals were sold and the former farmer retired and was not replaced. The closure of the farm has sparked public outcry, but Dillon has said that he envisions a broader cultural center onsite that could include farming operations as well as interpretive programs on such topics as cultural diversity and Native American history.

Room Facelift

Town council members agreed with a suggestion from Darnell to upgrade the town council’s meeting room. She proposed removing older items, adding new ones, changing the room’s color to a more neutral tone, and moving the main meeting table from the north end of the room to the east.

DeLaney said with the council table moved, the audience could hear council member discussion even when a train comes by

Stimulus Effort

The council agreed to participate in an effort by the Northwest Indiana Forum to retain an Indianapolis law firm to identify ways to maximize the possible benefits from the next round of federal economic stimulus funds.

Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann expressed a concern that the Forum might come back and request more than the town’s $2,600 contribution if not enough other communities sign on. Town council members agreed to join in the effort, contingent upon final review of the agreement by Lukmann.

Two Hour Parking

The council approved an ordinance amending the town code regarding two-hour parking restrictions. The change gives town officials more flexibility to impose the restrictions for any length of time, instead of only set hours. Accordingly, the town council agreed to place two-hour parking signs on Plaza Drive.

Planning Matters

At the recommendation of Town Manager Bernie Doyle, the council approved the selection of the S.E.H. firm to conduct a review of the town’s comprehensive plan and develop a downtown overlay zone. Another proposal was submitted by the LSL firm. Council members said both firms had strong credentials, but gave the work to S.E.H. due to its involvement in planning for other nearby projects.

The council also approved a request from Cliff Fleming to grant a waiver to a town standard that requires a sidewalk in front of a new house on Wilson Street. The street has no walks except for the one he installed in front of a house he has since sold.

The council agreed with a recommendation from Building Commissioner Dave Novak to invoke the town’s unsafe building ordinance for the house at 1500 Maximillan, which was damaged in a fire. Novak said there has been very little progress made in cleaning up the property since the fire.

New Fire Truck

Chesterton Fire Chief Mike Orlich announced a 3 p.m. ceremony this Sunday to officially put the town’s newly acquired fire truck in service. He also said that a grant application has been submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Administration for the proposed new fire station on Dickinson Road. The grant request seeks $1.8 million, with the town contributing a $100,000 match.


Posted 7/14/2009