By KEVIN NEVERS
When it comes to an unspecified amount of federal money—potentially
available to municipalities for the asking—it doesn’t hurt to ask.
And so the Chesterton Town Council is asking, or will ask, when it submits
to U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, a prioritized list of projects which
members would like to see funded. In a letter to the council dated Dec. 13,
Visclosky invited members to identify projects for which he might be able to
earmark moneys, either those already existing in discretionary programs or
those line-itemizable in the Congressional budget.
At a special meeting Monday night, members accordingly approved by consensus
a wish list of 10 projects:
•At the top of the council’s wish list: $600,000 for the purchase of park
land. Members could not say exactly which land Superintendent Bruce Mathias
is interested in buying—how many acres, at what location, and at what
price—since, as Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, noted, a premature release of
such details could induce the owners of the eyed property to jack their
selling price. Member Gina Darnell, R-5th, was under the impression that the
land is located east of Ind. 49, while Member Rich Whitlow, R-1st, in
contrast, was under exactly the opposite impression, that it is located west
of Ind. 49, in the vicinity of Dogwood Park.
•Next in priority: $2,789,730 for the extension of Dickinson Road.
•Then $1,350,000 for the long-discussed construction of a new fire station
on a parcel of land located in Phase V of the Estates of Sand Creek. The
Land Erie Land Company donated that land to the town for a new fire station,
which is also high on the list of possible projects to be funded through
revenues from Chesterton’s tax increment financing fund. “We’d have a
difficult time to fund two fire stations right now, wouldn’t we, Chief?”
Whitlow asked Fire Chief Warren “Skip” Highwood. Highwood, however,
demurred. The CFD already has sufficient materiel to equip a second fire
station, he said, and “if you build it, we’ll staff it.”
•Then $275,000 for a new vacuum truck, which Utility Superintendent Steve
Yagelski said would be shared with the Street Department. Making a vacuum
truck a possibly sexier item for federal funding, he observed, is the fact
that it would prove useful in meeting an unfunded federal mandate requiring
better stormwater separation.
•Then $50,000 for the extension of electric service to the west side of
Dogwood Park. That service would enable the night-time illumination of the
softball field and parking lot there and would also provide for future
additions to the park facility.
•Then $80,000 for the re-surfacing of the tennis and basketball courts at
Dogwood Park, which Whitlow noted are 37 years old.
•Then an amount yet to be determined—but estimated at $125,000—for the
construction of a sidewalk on the east side of 11th Street from Porter Ave.
to Chestnut Blvd. Moneys already exist for this project, as part of last
year’s $900,000 issue in general obligation bonds financing a joint
paving/sidewalk package, but federal funding of the sidewalk would permit
the Street Department to pave more streets.
•Then $57,024 for a health and fitness program for Chesterton firefighters.
That amount would pay for a three-year hospital-sponsored program for all of
the town’s 36 full-time and volunteer firefighters. Whitlow suggested
investigating the cost of adding Chesterton’s police officers to the program
•Then $80,000 for the extension of the sanitary sewers to approximately six
houses at the end of North Calumet Road in the vicinity of Riverside Drive.
•Finally, an amount yet to be determined for the rehabilitation of Thomas
Although the deadline for submission of the wish list to Visclosky is
Monday, Yagelski informed members, Project Manager Janet Cypra has arranged
to deliver the list to his office Tuesday. One of Visclosky’s staffers, Mark
Lopez, will then meet with the council after Visclosky has reviewed the