The Dickinson Road extension—a north-south artery which would link Indian
Boundary Road to Dickinson Road at East Porter Ave.—has long been a Holy
Grail for Town of Chesterton officialdom.
Over the years the project has been front-burnered, then back-burnered, then
front-burnered again, but always it loses momentum over two main sticking
points: the cost associated with crossing the Norfolk Southern tracks, for
one, and the question of where to cross, for the other: by way of
Sand Creek Drive or by way of Council Drive?
The second sticking point, at any rate, has been resolved.
At its meeting Monday night, the Redevelopment Commission approved a
resolution formally designating Council Drive—rather than Sand Creek
Drive—as the roadway by which Indian Boundary Road and Dickinson Road will
one day (perhaps) be connected.
The vote followed a lengthy discussion of Member Jim Ton’s suggestion that
it would be a good idea to think of the Dickinson Road extension in terms of
phases, with Phase I being the construction of a roadway north from East
Porter Ave. to the Norfolk Southern right-of-way.
Since crossing the Norfolk Southern tracks has been the perennial brick wall
in pursuing the Dickinson Road extension, Ton broached the possibility of
developing the area south of those tracks before the property owners in
question sold it to a big-box store, just for instance. “Anyone who thinks
that’s going to be a cornfield 50 years from now is mistaken, seriously
mistaken,” he said. “As we speak, the clock is ticking and I’m afraid that
at some time we’re going to wake up and find a big box there.”
That’s probably a good idea, Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann said—bearing in
mind always that no decision made by the commission is going to be binding
on the affected property owners—but until it’s decided where the railroad
tracks would actually be crossed, any planning would be moot.
To that end, Ton moved to make Council Drive the official Dickinson Road
extension and members voted to make it so.
In other business, the next phase of the South Calumet District project—the
reconfiguration of the so-called Triangle north of 1100N and west of 100E,
completed last year—now has a both a working name and a rough price tag.
At Ton’s suggestion, members officially dubbed the planning area—the stretch
of South Calumet Road between the Pope O’Connor Bridge and Porter Ave.—the
“Calumet Connection,” inasmuch as it connects the South Calumet District to
Meanwhile, Town Engineer Mark O’Dell provided a ballpark estimate of the
cost of proposed improvements in the Calumet Connection: $1.46 million,
including engineering fees and a 20-percent contingency.
Proposed work would include full-depth asphalt replacement, including that
over the Pope O’Connor Bridge; curbs and gutters; an eight-foot sidewalk
along the west side of South Calumet Road and the replacement of a short
stretch of sidewalk along the east side just south of Porter Ave.;
decorative street lighting at each intersection; a new storm sewer; and
Member Jeff Trout did wonder whether decorative streetlighting—given the
economic climate—would be the best use of tax increment financing funds,
rather than out-and-out economic development.
Ton suggested in response that such streetlighting may just be the sort of
thing which would attract new business to the area. “This may not just be
frosting,” he said. “This may also be the cake.”
In any case, members voted unanimously to obtain engineering quotes as a
first step to getting the ball rolling.
voted unanimously to approve two claims, both for work on the Ind. 49
utility corridor project: $25,195.08 from DVG Inc. of Crown Point; and
$3,440.58 from SEH of Indiana.