Chesterton Tribune



Ton: Summer round of Community Crossings grant awards postponed

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Over the last few years the Town of Chesterton has been a grateful beneficiary of numerous 50/50 Community Crossings state infrastructure grants.

Those grants have put a lot of bang into the town’s buck, when it came to paving 1100N between South Fifth Street and Pearson Road; 1100N between South Fifth Street and 100E; the length of Wabash Ave. and up Waverly Road to the CSX grade crossing; Broadway between Eighth Street and 19th Street; and--later this summer--North Calumet Road between Indian Boundary Road and the Norfolk Southern tracks, and the entirety of South Park Acres.

A Community Crossings grant also defrayed much of the cost of replacing the East Porter Ave. bridge over Coffee Creek.

So it’s fair to say that Community Crossings grants have saved the town hundreds of thousands of dollars in only a few years. Or as Member Jim Ton, R-1st, put it at Monday night’s Town Council meeting, those grants are “what the town has come to rely on” for needed infrastructure improvements.

So Ton’s bit of news on Monday from the Northwestern Indiana Regional Plan Commission was hardly welcome: the Indiana Department of Transportation has decided against opening up the summer round of Community Crossings grant awards.

The reason: those grants are funded through the state gas tax, and gas tax revenues are way down.

It’s possible, Ton said, that INDOT may open a round of grant awards later this fall, but nothing is certain at the moment.

But Ton had one other piece of unwelcome news: property-tax revenues are expected to be considerably lower as well next year.

“Now is the time to be very careful and prudent with any projects we may undertake,” Ton cautioned his colleagues.

Sidewalk Waiver

In other business, the council referred to Town Engineer Mark O’Dell the petition of Steiner Homes for the waiver of the Town Standard requiring a sidewalk in front of all new construction. John Kremke of Steiner made the request on behalf of a client who is building a house at 1840 S. 11th Street--directly across the street from Chesterton High School--and whose property at the south end butts up against the town’s corporate boundary. Kremke said that, with an 858-foot frontage, pouring a new sidewalk would be “a huge financial burden serving only one house.”

President Sharon Darnell, D-4th, made it clear, however, that while O’Dell will consider the petition carefully, she personally has a problem with it. “I for one am not in agreement with giving a waiver,” she said. “The sidewalk’s not for your client but for other people to use.”

Ton agreed. “It seems to me that across the street from the high school would be the wrong place not to put a sidewalk,” he said. “I’m struggling to understand why across from a busy school you would not have a sidewalk.”

Right-of-Way Agreement

Meanwhile, members voted unanimously to approve a right-of-way agreement with Odisei Miron, under which Miron may gravel the platted but unimproved portion of Center Street between Elgin and Ritter streets in Crocker.

Miron wants to build a house on property there and to use the graveled stretch of Center Street as his driveway.

Park Truck

Members also voted unanimously to approve an expenditure of $34,382 in CEDIT funds for the purchase of a Ford F-250 with a super cab, to be used by the Park Department.

Superintendent Shane Griffin told the council that the regular price for a F-250 is $44,820 but Lakeshore Ford has given the Park Department a steep $10,438 discount.

As Member Jennifer Fisher noted, the discounted price is slightly lower than the $35,000 earmarked in CEDIT funds for a new truck.

Plan Commission Applicants

Members agreed to interview three candidates for the open seat on the Advisory Plan Commission at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10, at the town hall.

The open seat is the result of Dane Lafata’s being elected by a Democrat caucus to fill the 4th District vacancy on the Town Council left by the resignation of Bob Allison. Lafata held a citizen’s seat on the Plan Commission, to which no elected or appointed official and no municipal employee may be appointed.

Ton on Doyle

Ton took a moment at the end of the meeting to thank Town Manager Bernie Doyle for his service, following Doyle’s announcement on Monday that he will retire on Dec. 31.

“I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for his tremendous contribution to the town,” Ton said. “I was here when he came on and sadly I’ll be here when he leaves. You’ve done a top-notch job in contributing to the efficiency of this town.”


Posted 7/29/2020




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