It shouldn’t come as any particular surprise to Downtown businesses that the
long-discussed, long-postponed sewer separation and replacement project is
The Chesterton Tribune regularly reported in 2009 that this project
is the single biggest big-ticket item on the list of projects to be funded
by last year’s $5.1 million sewer revenue bond issue.
But apparently the sheer scope of the project has the business community
concerned. Concerned but also confused, as Chesterton Town Engineer Mark
O’Dell told the Utility Service Board at its meeting Monday night.
So now would be a good time for a recap:
•The objective of the project is (1) to separate currently unseparated
sanitary and stormwater sewer lines beneath South Calumet Road between the
Norfolk Southern grade-crossing and West Indiana Ave., and (2) to replace
the degraded sanitary line.
•The Service Board has recognized for years the necessity of this project
but has postponed it annually for the better part of a decade for a variety
of reasons, chiefly a lack of available funds. The whole idea of the
14-percent sanitary sewer rate hike which took effect on Jan. 1, 2009, was
to pave the way for a bond issue part of the proceeds of which would be used
to fund this project.
•The project is not—repeat not—part of the South Calumet District
project. There will be no large-scale replacement of sidewalks, no
streetscaping, no landscaping, no facelifting of the Downtown in any way
prosecuted as part of this project by the Utility or on the Utility’s dime.
Some sidewalks will be removed in the excavation process and they will be
replaced but only on an ad hoc, as needed basis.
•The project will take two to three months, with ground likely breaking in
early or mid April. It is scheduled for completion by Memorial Day, Monday,
May 31, in time for the summer tourist season.
•Every effort will be made to minimize the impact on businesses and to that
end the project will be tackled in phases: South Calumet Road from Broadway
to the Norfolk Southern grade crossing; South Calumet from Broadway to West
Indiana Ave.; and South Calumet from West Morgan Ave. to West Porter Ave.
•The first phase tentatively scheduled is the leg between Broadway and the
Norfolk Southern grade-crossing, O’Dell told the Tribune after
Monday’s meeting, although that plan could change as the engineering has not
yet been finalized. O’Dell hopes that it will be possible to keep at least
one lane of traffic open at the crossing—either southbound or
northbound—maybe by temporarily banning on-street parking along South Cal
from Broadway to the tracks.
•The second phase will require the complete closure, however, of South
Calumet between Broadway and West Indiana Ave.
•The project’s estimated cost: $720,000.
O’Dell noted on Monday that every attempt will be made to keep Downtown
businesses apprised of the work schedule, progress, and any hiccups
encountered in the project. O’Dell also noted that he will maintain close
contact with the Tribune for the duration of the project should any
breaking news emerge, so a daily check of the paper would not be a bad idea.
But O’Dell emphasized that the single best source for the most current
information on the project will be at the Service Board’s monthly meetings,
at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of every month, when a good part of each
meeting will be dedicated to a report on the project. (Note:
due to the Presidents Day holiday on Monday, Feb. 15, the Service Board has
re-scheduled its regular monthly meeting to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 16.)
For reasons unknown to him, O’Dell said, businesses in the South Calumet
District have showed no interest in ever attending the regular meetings of
the Redevelopment Commission, which has jurisdiction over that project.
O’Dell did say that the Duneland Business Initiative Group has asked to meet
with him and that he will do so sometime in the next two weeks. But at this
point, he said, and until the engineering is finalized, there’s not a whole
lot more to say. “We do need to talk with them to get them on board. But we
don’t have a lot of information to give them right now.”
Once again, the Service Board voted 4-0 to re-schedule its next monthly
meeting to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16. Member Scot McCord was not
In December Chesterton used 44.93 percent of its 3,752,000 gallons per day (gpd)
allotment of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 70.6 percent of its
767,000 gpd allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 72.24
percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 48.85 percent
of its capacity.
There were no bypasses recorded last month.
In December the Utility ran a deficit of $170,637 and in the year a total
deficit of $93,975.