Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Appraisals in for Porter and Calumet corner, but project feasibility in question

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The appraisals for the property currently for sale at the southeast intersection of Porter Ave. and South Calumet Road--requested by the Chesterton Redevelopment Commission with an eye toward possibly acquiring the parcel for right-of-way as part of a roadway improvement project--are in.

Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann told the commission at its meeting Monday night that both appraisers valued the property at $195,000. Under state law, a municipality may not pay more than the average of two appraisals when purchasing private real property.

The commission, however, will be making no offers on the property at this time, not until, at any rate, Town Engineer Mark O’Dell has determined whether the project itself is actually feasible. At the moment, he told members on Monday, feasibility is a genuine issue.

For one thing, three of the four corners of the intersection--northeast, northwest, and southwest--are “solid,” with no potential right-of-way available for acquisition and no further room for expansion, O’Dell said. For another, it’s a utility-rich intersection: with a 16-inch storm sewer, a 16-inch sanitary force main, a water main (along with a fire hydrant at the southeast corner, which would have to be re-located at the town’s expense), and--buried underground--fiber optic conduit, a telephone line, and a natural-gas line.

How much it would cost to maneuver around these utilities--whether they even can be maneuvered around--is currently unknown, O’Dell said.

Another unknown: what exactly a reconfigured intersection would look like. O’Dell told the Chesterton Tribune after the meeting that possibly a dedicated right-turn lane could be added for motorists northbound on South Calumet Road to turn onto eastbound East Porter Ave. Possibly as well a dedicated right-turn lane and combined through-and-left-turn lane could be added for motorists westbound on East Porter Ave. approaching South Calumet Road. And a traffic signal might also be installed. But, O’Dell added, he’s not close yet to having something resembling a real reconfiguration plan.

Meanwhile, the owner of the property in question pleaded with the commission on Monday to make a decision soon. One potential buyer of the property was scared off after reading about the town’s interest in the parcel, while a tenant of the property left it for the same reason. She expressed the wish too that the town hadn’t gone public with its interest so soon, as it’s put her in something of a bind.

Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st--who originally proposed the purchase of her property--responding by saying that under Indiana code municipal bodies may only deliberate and act at public meetings and may make no decisions or take no actions in secret.

And unless and until the commission makes a formal decision to proceed with the project, it would be “illegal” for it to purchase the property, Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann noted. “We can’t buy the property if we’re not going to use it,” he said.

For that reason non-voting Member John Marshall told the property owner that O’Dell is working as quickly as he can to determine the project’s feasibility.

Member Nick Walding, for his part, told the property owner that she is absolutely free to sell it to whomever else is interested in buying it, regardless of the town’s possible interest in it. “If another private buyer wants to buy it, we can’t stop them,” he said.

 

Posted 7/24/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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