Chesterton Tribune

Ton wants town to have input on Dunes-Kankakee Trail route

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Chesterton Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, just wants to be sure that, when the formal decision is made about the route through Chesterton of the Dunes-Kankakee Trail, town officials are the ones who will make it.

When completed, the proposed Dunes-Kankakee will provide a hike/bike trail linking Indiana Dunes State Park to the Kankakee River near Hebron, most of that trail hugging Ind. 49.

One thing is pretty much certain at this point: the southern terminus of the Town of Porter’s stretch of the Dunes-Kankakee Trail will be in the area of Waverly Road and Woodlawn Ave. One thing not at all certain: how and where the trail will proceed from that point through the Town of Chesterton.

And Ton is adamant that municipal staff—not someone on the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority or the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission—has the final say in the matter of route. For that reason he asked his colleagues’ permission at Monday night’s council meeting to indicate to the RDA and NIRPC that the choice of route through Chesterton “will be made by staff.”

Ton also asked his colleagues’ permission to indicate one other thing: that the cost of that stretch of the Dunes-Kankakee “will be borne by NIRPC and the RDA.”

“I’m in favor of the trail,” Ton said, but the town has its own infrastructure to maintain and its own bills to pay.

Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, however, had another take on the question of funding. The Dunes-Kankakee would be “a great economic engine,” he said, and the City of Valparaiso is “distraught” that current plans have the trail going past it. “It would be up to them to provide connector routes.” So Chesterton should consider itself fortunate that the Dunes-Kankakee, as proposed, will go through the heart of the town.

“I think it’s a little premature to say ‘No, we’re not going to spend public moneys on it,’ DeLaney said. “I see the possibility of cost sharing.”

Member Nick Walding, R-3rd, concurred with DeLaney. “We don’t want to box ourselves in,” he said. “It would be nice if we don’t have to spend too many of our funds.”

Ton bent a bit to amend his motion accordingly: that the Town Council could, in principle, agree to authorize some funding of the Dunes-Kankakee should circumstances warrant doing so.

Or as Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann phrased it, “the Chesterton Town Council should determine which, if any, funds are going to be spent by the town. You need input as to route and funding. I can’t imagine any community signing a document saying ‘We’ll pay a local share that hasn’t been determined.’”

Members then voted 4-0 to approve Ton’s amended motion. President Jeff Trout, R-2nd, was not in attendance.

Development Updates

In other business, Town Engineer Mark O’Dell reported that Long Term Care Investments (LTCI) of Elkhart is set to break ground late this week or early next week on its new 100-bed nursing home on Dickinson Road. Last year, the council grated LTCI a 10-year tax abatement on the strength of the company’s pledge to hire 120 employees with total annual wages of $3.2 million.

Meanwhile, Town Manager Bernie Doyle reported that discussions are still in the works with the developer of a proposed Holiday Inn Express at the southwest corner of the intersection of Ind. 49 and Indian Boundary Road.

DAR Proclamation

Members voted 4-0 to proclaim, at the request of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the week of Sept. 17-23 “Constitution Week,” and to urge all residents to reflect that week on the privileges and duties of U.S. citizenship.



Posted 8/9/2011