Chesterton Tribune

Dickinson Rd. project likely to take years, town is told

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At a minimum it would be four or five years before the first motorist ever travels from Indian Boundary Road to Porter Ave. via an extended Dickinson Road.

So Chesterton Town Engineer Mark O’Dell told the Redevelopment Commission at its meeting Monday night.

Beside the acquisition of right-of-way, an environmental impact study would have to be completed and permits and certificates issued, a hydraulic design undertaken, and public hearings convened, among other things.

The biggest “unknown,” however, as O’Dell put it, would be the CSX railroad, over or under whose tracks the extension would have to be built. “The railroad is going to be a major player,” he predicted, and “you can’t restrict” its daily operations. “That can stretch the project.”

As proposed, Sand Creek Drive would be extended south from Michael Drive, bridged over or tunneled under the CSX, and then continued south to Porter Ave. and aligned with the northern terminus of Dickinson.

Of Federal Grants

Meanwhile, Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann informed the commission that the purchase of right-of-way in advance of construction would in no way disqualify the town from obtaining federal grants to defray the cost of construction, as Member Sharon Darnell suggested was a possibility at the commission’s last meeting. And while the town would not be able to use a federal grant to recoup the actual cost of purchasing right-of-way, it could subsequently use that right-of-way as part of a local match when applying for such grants.

At issue is whether the commission should proceed with the contemplated purchase from Tom Roberts of Outlot B of Duneland Cove IV, which extends from the intersection of Sand Creek Drive and Michael Drive south to the CSX right-of-way. On that piece of property the first leg of the Dickinson extension would be constructed. Two appraisals of that property, authorized by the Town Council, are due later this week, Lukmann said.

President David Canright—managing editor of the Chesterton Tribune—did indicate that at the commission’s next meeting, 6:30 p.m. April 24, he would like a definitive recommendation from staff on whether to proceed with the purchase of Roberts’ property or not.

Bits and Pieces

•Members voted 4-0 to approve on its first reading an ordinance authorizing an additional expenditure of $200,000, 4-0 to suspend the rules, then 4-0 to approve the ordinance on its final reading. Member Sharon Darnell was detained and missed the vote. At a public hearing prior to the vote, no one spoke in favor of the ordinance and no one in opposition to it. Member Mike Bannon noted that the additional appropriation does not guarantee that all or any of the funds will be spent. Rather, he compared the action to transferring money from a savings account to a checking account and said that the ordinance merely makes the funds available for expenses which may arise over the course of the year.

•Members voted 4-0 to approve three claims totaling $2,414.50: one from Williams Aerial & Mapping and two from Harris Welsh & Lukmann.


Posted 4/13/2006