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.
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
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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
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.
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
“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.”