By KEVIN NEVERS
With all the attention in recent weeks being paid to the improvement of the
South Calumet Triangle, a person could be forgiven for forgetting that the
extension of Dickinson Road—from south of the Northfolk-Southern
right-of-way north to Indian Boundary Road—has been one of the handful of
projects to which the Chesterton Redevelopment Commission formally dedicated
itself when the tax increment financing district was originally established.
At its meeting Monday night, the commission re-dedicated itself to the
project. Members voted 4-0 to instruct Town Engineer Mark O’Dell to prepare
a study—only in the most general terms—of the possible routing of the
Dickinson Road extension.
“It doesn’t even need to be at the drawing level,” Member Mike Bannon told
O’Dell. “I think this is prudent,” Member Dave Canright, managing editor of
the Chesterton Tribune, said. “It doesn’t obligate us to move in any
particular direction or speed.”
Bits and Pieces
•By consensus members agreed to change the time of their regular meeting—on
the fourth Monday of the month—from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
•Members voted 4-0 to approve a claim of $29.12 for a legal advertisement
published in the Chesterton Tribune. Canright said that, on advice of legal
counsel, he voted for the motion because he has no ownership stake in the
Tribune and was under no statutory obligation to recuse himself.
•By consensus members agreed to schedule an executive session at 6 p.m.
March 6 for the purpose of discussing the purchase of real property.
•Clerk-Treasurer Gayle Polakowski told the commission that John Julien of
H.J. Umbaugh & Associates, the town’s contracted financial consultant, is
currently reviewing the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance’s
projection of the final 2005 TIF disbursement: in the neighborhood of
$46,000. “That figure seems awfully low,” she said.
•Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann informed members that the final decision to
award a contract for the preliminary engineering or Phase I of the South
Calumet Triangle improvement project will be theirs because TIF funds have
been earmarked to pay for it. The commission will have the option of
interviewing one or more of the four firms which responded to the request
for proposals issued by the Town Council in January, he added.
Canright took an opportunity at the end of the meeting to voice his view of
the relationship between Chesterton’s TIF district and new development:
there isn’t any, at least no necessary one.
Due to the ongoing confusion at the state level in the wake of court-ordered
property reassessment—he might have mentioned specifically but did not the
Department of Local Government Finance’s apparent low-balling of the town’s
final 2005 TIF disbursement—no one venturing to argue in favor of any new
commercial or industrial development should think to cite the benefits which
would accrue to the TIF fund.
As a matter of principle, Canright said, “no strategic decision in town
should be based on expectations of TIF revenues.”