Chesterton Tribune

Ton regrets hour-long NIRPC show; TIF board presses on with Dickinson Road

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An hour-long presentation by two NIRPC staffers at the Chesterton Town Council’s meeting on June 11 was not at all what Member Jim Ton, R-1st, had in mind, when—as NIRPC commissioner and Executive Board member—he arranged it.

Instead, Ton had been rather hoping for a 20-minute discussion in which a representative of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission would simply discuss the status of the Dickinson Road extension project.

What Ton got was something like a 45-minute overview of NIRPC’s 2040 plan, with special attention to urban redevelopment.

At Monday’s meeting of the Redevelopment Commission—on which he also sits—Ton read a prepared statement in which he offered his regrets.

The NIRPC presentation was not what I expected it to be,” Ton said. “It was too long and detailed. . . . I believe the excessive length and detail of the presentation frustrated the council and others present. I apologize for the frustration and lack of clarity.”

Ton also indicated that the rationale given by the NIRPC staffers for not including the Dickinson Road extension in NIRPC planning—that the project is “regionally insignificant”—was not only something of a low blow but more to the point obsolete. “The term ‘regionally insignificant’ as used in the presentation specifically applied to previous regional plan project criteria in the 2010 project application,” he said. “The new 2040 plan has options for projects which are ‘expansion’ projects.”

And the Town of Chesterton’s projected growth of 42 percent by 2040 “puts this project in that category,” Ton said.

“As an ‘expansion’ project it does potentially qualify for federal highway funding pending the results of additional data and analysis and NIRPC’s consideration of all such projects in the service area,” Ton added. “NIRPC is willing to give Chesterton assistance in project planning and grant applications for Dickinson Road.”

The commission then took the following steps:

•Members voted 4-0 to retain DLZ to prepare a preliminary engineering study of the Dickinson Road extension, a requirement for any grant application.

•Members also formally asked NIRPC to partner with the town and to focus its analysis on a potential Ind. 49 corridor study with additional data and analysis.



Posted 6/27/2012