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