Chesterton Tribune



Town seeks owner of tree damaged-house at 3rd Street and Porter Ave

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On Nov. 18 high winds toppled a large tree onto the house at the southeast corner of the intersection of West Porter Ave. and Third Street.

Four months later, the tree is still there, leaning against the home, the original damage exacerbated by this winter’s harsh weather.

And a neighbor, Mark Pruitt, would really like to see the tree removed.

At Monday night’s Chesterton Town Council meeting, Pruitt urged members to have the tree removed under the nuisance ordinance. Failing that, Pruitt said that he’s willing to donate a colleague’s legal services, on a pro bono basis, to expedite the matter.

The problem--as has been the problem over the last couple of years, with vacant and foreclosed homes in town slowly and not so slowly becoming neighborhood blights--is that no one knows at the moment who the house’s owner actually is. And nothing can happen until that party is legally notified of the ordinance violation.

As Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg noted, “Typically homeowner’s insurance takes care of that sort of thing.” But it’s unclear who the home’s owner is. “I’ve spent a couple of hours at least trying to locate the owner and I’ve made it as far as a bank in California,” he said.

“If we go ahead and remove the tree, and do damage, we’re liable for all of it,” Schnadenberg added. “There’s been no one really to contact.”

“It sounds like due diligence has been conducted,” Pruitt replied. “I don’t know where we can go next.”

The council had an idea, however: Give it to Lukmann.

Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann told Schnadenberg to forward all information on the situation and that he would pursue a remedy.

From the Streets

In other business, members voted 5-0 to authorize the purchase, at a cost of $5,549 in CEDIT funds, a 24-inch walk-behind cleaning machine for the Street Department, which Schnadenberg had requested to deal with snowmelt brought into the garage by the fleet of plows and other vehicles. There are no floor drains in that area of the bay, Schnadenberg previously told the council, and this equipment “will go a long way to making the floor safer, with no more slipping,”

Schnadenberg also told members that he plans on replacing some or all of the decorative street lights along Broadway and South Calumet Road with LED lights. “We’ll see how they work, if they cost less,” he said.

From the Fire Department

Meanwhile, Nate Williams, the Fire Department’s training coordinator, reported that the CFD has completed its CPR certification classes at Chesterton Middle School. A total of 493 eighth-graders are now certified by the American Heart Association in CPR.

Williams also reported that all repairs to the ladder truck have been completed, following the incident in December when the ladder struck a NIPSCO power line during a weekly check. The vehicle still needs to be UL-tested, Williams added, which will be done at the repair shop.

Among the Boxes

Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela, for her part, reported that her office and staff have successfully moved into the municipal complex at 1490 Broadway, from its old location at the former town hall, 726 Broadway.

“We’re still working out of boxes, so we ask for your patience,” Kuziela said.

Kuziela also thanked the town’s departments for their help in effecting the move in a single day.


Posted 3/25/2014