Drive down 1100N west of 11th Street any time after school is out—say in the
late afternoon—and you’re likely to see kids walking or running or biking
along the side of the road.
The CHS cross country teams frequently train along that stretch of 1100N.
And it’s dangerous: no sidewalks, very little in the way of shoulder, hardly
any clearance at all.
It’s so dangerous that resident Tom Lee wants to know why the Town of
Chesterton hasn’t built a sidewalk along 1100N.
“I have seen these kids walking down 1100N without a sidewalk,” he told the
Town Council at its meeting Monday night. “You’ve done so much trying to get
businesses to come to town but we haven’t built a sidewalk. Someone’s going
to get hurt. Honest to God, it’s scaring me. It’s been years now.”
In fact a sidewalk has been planned along 1100N all the way from 23rd Street
to 100E, Town Engineer Mark O’Dell said. It’s called the Westchester-Liberty
Trail and the first phase of that trail has been built, from 23rd Street as
far east along 1100N as the Rose Hill Estates subdivision.
But then the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers got involved, O’Dell said, once it
became known that the wetland east of Rose Hill Estates is actually a
designated wetland. The cost of building a boardwalk instead of a sidewalk
along that stretch of 1100N, from Rose Hill Estates to 11th Street:
somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000.
O’Dell added that he has annually applied for a grant to construct this next
phase of the Westchester-Liberty Trail but those grants have annually been
rejected. It was a grant, he noted, which funded the very first phase a
number of years ago.
“We’re trying to find the funding to take care of this,” said Member Jim
Ton, R-1st. “I share your concern.”
“I just don’t want to see a kid get hurt,” Lee replied.
“No one does,” Ton said. “But to do this stretch of sidewalk would be five
years of our sidewalk budget, if not more.”
Ton did say that the Dunes-Kankakee Trail—which will ultimately link Indiana
Dunes State Park to the Kankakee River near Hebron—will run straight through
town, down South Calumet Road to 100E and then into Coffee Creek Center. It
will also connect directly to the Westchester-Liberty Trail at the
intersection of 1100N and 100E and that connectivity is likely to make the
Westchester-Liberty Trail a more attractive project for grant providers. “It
should give more impetus, more force, behind our grant proposals,” Ton said.
Later in the
meeting, members voted 3-0 to grant to DVG Inc.—the general contractor for
the Chesterton Health and Rehabilitation Center on Dickinson Road south of
East Porter Ave.—a waiver from the Town Standard which requires a sidewalk
in front of all new construction.
Darnell, D-4th, and Jeff Trout, R-2nd, were not in attendance.
A rep from DVG
told members that the required sidewalk would be a stand-alone stretch,
unconnected to any other sidewalk.
Or as O’Dell
said, “a sidewalk to nowhere.”
Ton noted that,
in the event of Dickinson Road’s being reconstructed, any sidewalk built by
DVG would have to be ripped up.
DeLaney, R-5th, concurred. “If we ever improve Dickinson Road, it would ergo
be wider and we’d have to tear the sidewalk out.”
emphasize that the council’s granting of a sidewalk waiver on Monday should
not be construed as a matter of policy. “This is a case-by-case
decision-making process,” he said. “It doesn’t take anyone off the hook in
the future. It doesn’t set a precedent.”