Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Downtown businesses concerned about sewer project this spring

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By KEVIN NEVERS

It shouldn’t come as any particular surprise to Downtown businesses that the long-discussed, long-postponed sewer separation and replacement project is coming.

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.”

Re-scheduled

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 attendance.

December in Review

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.

 

 

 

 

Posted 1/19/2010

 

 

 

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