Chesterton Tribune

TIF board gives DLZ time to make South Calumet District signage more readable

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By KEVIN NEVERS

So what exactly is the problem with the gateway signage at the northwest and northeast corners of 100E and 1100, in the South Calumet District?

That was the question put by Craig Hudson of DLZ—the contracted engineering consultant which designed the signage—to the Chesterton Redevelopment Commission at its meeting Monday night.

“You can’t see the sign,” Member Jim Ton replied. “I don’t mean to be flip. But that’s the problem. You can’t read the sign.”

Folks familiar with the two signs—constructed of rusting sheet metal with the words “South Calumet District” cut out of them—might concur with Ton. The apparent problem: there’s not enough contrast between the rusting color of the metal and the background revealed by the cut-out lettering.

“An aiming problem (with the lights),” Hudson suggested. “Maybe an illumination problem.”

“I’m not sure ground-level lighting will help,” Ton countered. “Possibly different fixtures. That’s a layman’s interpretation, of course. But I’ve had two different people ask me about those signs because they can’t be read.”

President Sharon Darnell noted that the signs will continue to rust and eventually “should be more vibrant in color,” providing a better contrast with the lettering.

In any case, Hudson raised the possibility that “it’s a combination of a couple of things” and asked the commission for a bit more time to review the problem and possible solutions. “Fact is, you’re not happy and we want this to function and look as intended.”

Town Engineer Mark O’Dell did say that more time would be a good thing, since the blossoming this spring of the plantings behind the signage could affect their look and readability.

2011 Projects

In other business, Street Commissioner submitted for members’ consideration a list of possible projects for the season to be funded with tax increment financing funds:

•The re-wiring of the traffic signals at South Calumet Road and Broadway and possibly the replacement of the eight-inch heads with now standard 12-inch ones.

•The re-paving of one lane of North Calumet Road between Grant Ave. and Indian Boundary Road: that lane which will not be excavated and then re-surfaced by Indiana-American Water Company as it installs a new water main this season. Estimated cost: $45,000.

•The re-paving of East Porter Ave. from Ind. 49 to the water tower, the stretch to the east of which—up to Friday Road—is not properly in the TIF district and is therefore not eligible to be re-paved with TIF moneys. “The condition of that road is bad,” Schnadenberg noted. Estimated cost: $84,698.

•The installation of battery backups in the traffic signals along Indian Boundary Road east of Ind. 49. Four or five times last year those signals became useless during power outages and motorists were flummoxed.

•Some sidewalk replacements: half a block along the west side of South Calumet Road by the gas station; and along North Calumet Road between Grant Ave. and Wabash Ave.

Members voted 4-0 to take Schnadenberg’s recommendations under advisement. President Jeff Trout was not in attendance.

Ind. 49 Utility Corridor

Meanwhile, members voted 4-0 to schedule two public hearings at their next meeting, March 28, on a pair of declaratory resolutions approved at their January meeting: one which amends the plan under which the original TIF district was created to include as projects for a new TIF district south of the Indiana Toll Road the following: roadway improvements and the installation of natural gas, sanitary sewer, stormwater, water, and fiber optic infrastructure; the other which fixes an actual price tag for the contemplated improvements south of the Toll Road: $5 million.

The whole point of a new TIF district is to establish one possible funding source—TIF revenues—for the Ind. 49 utility corridor, as it’s come to be called, which, when completed, would open both sides of Ind. 49 as far south as U.S. Highway 6 in unincorporated Liberty Township to commercial and residential development.

In furtherance of that plan, members also voted 4-0 to instruct Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann to begin work on the legalities of providing engineering for the project.

Darnell also asked Clerk-Treasurer Gayle Polakowski to include the Ind. 49 utility corridor as a regular piece of business on the commission’s monthly agendas, “so we can start to embrace this as a possible project of the board.”

Coffee Creek Park Boardwalk

Finally, members voted 4-0 to schedule one other public hearing at their next meeting, one on an additional appropriation of $81,791.10, the cost of replacing the boardwalk and the bridge in Coffee Creek Park damaged by the floods of 2008.

That cost was originally going to be covered with CEDIT funds already earmarked to the Parks and Recreation Department, but a shortfall in CEDIT moneys this year—the town is down by around $150,000 or 20 percent from its 2010 allotment—forced O’Dell to ask the commission for a helping hand.

In fact, 75 percent of the requested amount will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

CEDIT revenues for all cities and towns in Porter County have taken a hit, since the faltering economy has put folks out of jobs and with fewer people making incomes there is less in the way of income tax.

 

 

Posted 3/2/2011