Take a hypothetical
pot of federal transportation money to be divvied up by Northwest Indiana
and Metropolitan Chicago.
Of the two, which
would be likely to get the lion’s share of funding?
That’s the question
which Chesterton Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, is asking right now.
And he’s pretty sure he knows the answer.
chairs the Executive Board of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning
Commission, and as he reported at Monday night’s council meeting, the U.S.
Department of Transportation is seeking to change the way in which urbanized
areas (UZAs)--like Northwest Indiana--are defined. The main consequence of
the far more expansive definition of UZAs--which takes no account of state
boundaries--would be to force NIRPC and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for
Planning (CMAP) to merge.
And that, Ton
thinks, would be terrible for the runts of the litter.
Take the Town of
Chesterton. Over the last couple of years it’s been the recipient of several
NIRPC grants totaling $1,321,972: for Phase II of the Westchester-Liberty
Trail, along 1100N; for the modernization of the traffic signal at the
intersection of North Calumet Road and Indian Boundary Road; and for
streetscape improvements along South Calumet Road between Porter Ave. and
the Chesterton Post Office.
Force a merger of
NIRPC and CMAP, and that kind of largesse is likely to be a thing of the
past, Ton said. “We don’t want to stand in line behind CMAP. There won’t be
anything left for us but crumbs. If the money we’ve received before means
anything to us, we don’t want this to happen.”
DeLaney, R-5th, concurred. “Seems to me that people have been moving out of
Illinois to Indiana for a reason,” he said.
“This is not going
to be constructive,” Ton added. “It takes away local control. It’s not
needed, it’s not necessary, and it’s not productive. It’s the result of
machinations in Washington, D.C.”
voted to instruct Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann to draft a letter of protest
against the proposed rule change and any mandated merger of NIRPC and CMAP.