Chesterton Tribune

TIF board hears complaints about South Calumet District

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There are at least two folks not altogether thrilled with the nearly completely South Calumet District project, and they made their opinions crystal clear at Monday’s meeting of the Chesterton Redevelop-ment Commission.

Martin Papke—the owner of Kathy’s Antique Shop at 1599 S. Calumet Road, located in space leased in the so-called Hamstra building—was the first to speak from the floor. Papke had three bones in particular to pick.

The first: that there is no street sign clearly identifying South Calumet Road placed at its intersection with the Beverly Drive extension. “Out-of-towners can’t find” the business, Papke said.

The second: that the iron gateway elements at the intersection of 100E and 1100N—while “beautiful”—can’t easily be read, since the cut-out portion of the signs spelling “Chesterton” and “South Calumet District” blend with the background.

The third and most important: the two monument signs placed at either end of the district and identifying the businesses along South Calumet Road south of the Beverly Drive extension list only the buildings themselves. Thus Round the Clock is listed but his own business—located in a larger building not owned by Papke himself—is not listed. “I’ve lost all visibility,” Papke said. “I’ve lost all drive-by traffic. It’s unfair.”

Papke noted that he’s been at his present location for 12 years and for 37 years has operated his business in Chesterton.

Members did not specifically address his first concern, that of a missing street sign at the intersection of the Beverly Drive extension.

Member Jim Ton did, however, agree with Papke about the difficulty of reading the gateway elements but noted that the elements “are supposed to rust to the point at which they’ll be easy to read.”

How long will that take? Papke wanted to know.

Ton was unable to say but suggested that in the meantime perhaps some sort of backing can be applied to the cut-out letters in the iron.

Papke’s third concern was a little stickier, as the commission agreed some months ago that only the names of the buildings themselves would be listed on the two monument signs. Members specifically asked the owners of the buildings which have no clearly branded name—unlike, say, Round the Clock—to provide names for the buildings to that they can be listed on the signage. One of the owners did and his structure is listed as the Green Tree Center. But the listing suggested by the owner of the Hamstra building was rejected—“Space for Lease”—and no new listing has been provided.

In any case, so far as Papke is concerned, it doesn’t matter what the Hamstra building might be listed as on the sign, since his own business is not listed. “What’s the Green Tree Center? No one knows. There’s nothing to indicate what the centers are.”

Ton agreed that Papke has a point and persuaded his colleagues to vote 4-0 to take the matter under further advisement. Member Sharon Darnell was not in attendance.

More on the Focal and Gateway Elements

James Bennett, on the other hand, doesn’t like the scale of the focal elements at the intersection of Ind. 49 and 1100 and the gateway elements at 100E and 1100. The basic configuration of the district is fine, Bennett said from the floor—“It’s a great project”—but the elements are “massive” and the money spent on them could have been better spent.

Speaking of the money spent on them, “What did it cost the citizens of Chesterton to put up those signs?” Bennett wondered, then asked what he had to do to file a Freedom of Information request to get that data.

Actually, Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann replied, all you have to do is ask the commission. Or as President Edward Schoenfelt noted, the Chesterton Tribune has regularly reported on the bidding process and the contract prices for each of the project’s three phases.

The contract price for Phase III—the street- and landscaping of the district—as low-bid by Larson-Danielson Construction Company Inc. of LaPorte: $448,936.07. Town Engineer Mark O’Dell was not immediately able to break out of that total the cost of each element, but he did tell the Tribune after the meeting that the bulk of that contract price is comprised of the construction and installation of the four elements.

Lukmann added that the commission’s meetings are all public, that bids were publicly advertised for each phase of the project, and that each bid was awarded to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. In addition, Lukmann said, a stakeholder committee on which elected and appointed officials sat with citizens of the community went through a long—and public—process discussing the street- and landscape design.

“All of that information is out there,” Lukmann said.

South Cal Update

Meanwhile, it’s looking as though the book will be closed sometime next month on the South Calumet District project. Within the next few weeks, pavement markings will be applied to the manifold driveway entrance, all grading and sod and seeding should be finished, and the focal and gateway elements all illuminated, project manager Ron Steve of DLZ indicated in a memo.

Ton did have one complaint: the “unsightly” mound of broken asphalt at the north end of the district. O’Dell promised to talk to the contractor about it.

Change Order No. 1

Members did vote 4-0 to approve Change Order No. 1 for Phase III of the project, the street- and landscaping portion being completed by Larson-Danielson. That change order adds $4,016.50 to the contract price of $448,936.07. It includes the cost of removing unsuitable material beneath one of the focal elements on Ind. 49 and pouring concrete there, a deduct for changing the depth of some limestone, and removing some sodding from Phase II of the project and replacing it with seeding in Phase III.


Members also voted 4-0 to approve five claims: $14,936 from DLZ; $526.95 from Fox Valley System; $43,953.33 from G.E. Marshall; $266,764.05 from Larson-Danielson; and $2,900 from H.J. Umbaugh & Associates.



Posted 7/29/2010