Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Council gives $4,300 to vintage South Shore train line feasibility study

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Lorelei Weimer has successfully prevailed on the Porter County Commissioners and the Chesterton Town Council to pony up $4,300 each to pay for a study which would determine the feasibility of running a vintage South Shore train from the Visitor Center on Ind. 49 to Chesterton, Porter, Dunes State Park, and back.

Now it’s up to the Porter Town Council to put in place the final piece of the funding puzzle.

At its meeting Monday night, the Chesterton Town Council voted 4-0 to follow the County Commissioners’ lead and contribute $4,300 in CEDIT funds to the feasibility study, the point of which would be to identify the cost and right-of-way issues in laying track for the train.

The total cost of the study: $19,500, $6,500 of which would be provided by the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitors Commission (PCCRVC). But as PCCRVC Executive Director Weimer noted, “it’s all or nothing.” If the Porter Town Council opts not to contribute, that’s its prerogative.

Although in that case, Weimer added, “it all sort of falls apart at that point.”

Should the feasibility study find a vintage train line prohibitively expensive or otherwise not physically possible, there are two other options for the six old South Shore cars, track, and other equipment which Bob Harris began collecting 30 years ago and has agreed to make available for such a line: either a static exhibit or an operational one on a single piece of property.

Richard Riley, owner of Riley Railhouse in the Chesterton Downtown and a proponent of the project, told the council that in his view “the risk-reward ratio is very much tipped in our direction.”

Member Jim Ton, R-3rd, agreed in principle. “This is potentially a great draw for tourism and a convenience for South Shore riders,” who would be able to take the proposed train right into the Downtown.

“What we’ve been told,” Riley offered, “is that if we can get the first two miles in, people will see and understand” the value of the project. “The possibilities are tremendous.”

Weimer has not yet addressed the Porter Town Council on the issue.

Fiber Optic

In other business, by three consecutive 4-0 votes, members adopted resolutions which declare that the installation of fiber-optic sleeve in each of the town’s tax increment financing districts would be a TIF-eligible project.

The town would only underwrite the cost of installing the infrastructure, not the fiber-optic line itself.

Relay for Life

Members also voted 4-0 to authorize Duneland Relay for Life to decorate the Downtown with banners and flags and such in advance of this year’s event on Saturday, June 28.

The decorations will go up on June 16 and come down on June 30, promised Glenda Dershem of Duneland Relay for Life.

Ethics

Finally, members voted 4-0 to enroll the town in the Northwest Indiana Shared Ethics Advisory Commission, at a cost of $750 each in the first two years of membership and $250 annually thereafter.

The goals of the commission: heightening awareness of ethical issues within municipal government and assisting municipal employees with the practical tools to make ethical decisions.

As part of the town’s membership in the commission, members also voted 4-0 to adopt a “Code of Shared Ethics and Values,” which Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson said does not replace or alter in any way the town’s Personnel Policy.

 

 

Posted 6/16/2014