Chesterton Tribune



Ton: Fight back against federal push to merge NIRPC with Illinois agency

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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.

Ton currently 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.”

Member Emerson 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.”

Members accordingly 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.



Posted 8/25/2016








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