With the Porter County Plan Commission’s approval last week of Community
Health System’s plans for a new hospital in Liberty Township—and with the
possibility of a groundbreaking as early as June—the Chesterton Utility is
waiting on word from CHS about whether it will get the nod to treat the new
At the Utility Service Board’s meeting Monday night, President Larry Brandt
said that the Utility has “been in ongoing discussion with CHS” and that
“we’re coming down to the finish line.”
“We’ve been putting information together to help them make a final
decision,” Brandt said.
Also in the running for the treatment contract is the Damon Run Conservancy
District, through which the hospital’s sewage would be flowed on its way to
the Portage wastewater treatment plant.
In other business, the Service Board voted 5-0 to authorize Town Engineer
Mark O’Dell to go out to bid as soon as he can on Phase II—which is now
Phase I—of the Downtown sanitary sewer replacement and separation project.
With Phase I—now Phase II—postponed to next year, Member Scot McCord said,
it behooves the Utility to move quickly on the less invasive component of
the project: the separation of a combined sanitary-stormwater sewer line
beneath South Calumet Road between Morgan Ave. and Porter Ave.
O’Dell estimated that the project could take around four weeks and that,
while there will definitely be traffic restrictions—possibly a detour for
northbound traffic—there will be access to all businesses.
Lawson-Fisher Associates, the Downtown project’s contracted engineer,
remains in discussion with the Indiana-American Water Company (IAWC) and
NIPSCO. Coordinating the Utility’s end of the project with IAWC’s and
NIPSCO’s has proved more difficult than anyone had predicted, and it’s the
complexity of scheduling who’s going to do what and when which prompted the
Service Board to postpone this portion of the project to next year.
Meanwhile, Superintendent Pat Geisendorfer reported that the newly
constructed Dickinson Road lift station is still not on line due to some
electric issues involving the pumps.
O’Dell did say that he hopes the new facility goes into operation within the
next 30 days.
Until then, the Utility will continue to have to make do with the existing
lift station, which showed its lack of capacity once again during the heavy
rains early on Thursday morning, when a crew was forced to fill one of two
of the 22,000-gallon Baker storage tanks still on the site for precisely
Geisendorfer also reported that the Utility is currently working with NIPSCO
and Verizon to get access to a sewer pipe which is collapsing in the
Morningside subdivision. That project will proceed, he said, as soon as a
repair is made to the breached manhole which caused a sinkhole to open on
Thursday at the intersection of West Porter Ave. and Eighth Street.
Geisendorfer did observe that the collections crew has spent the last three
weeks or so cleaning sewers and adjusting manholes in Morningside. But it’s
been “slow going due to the line’s being in the easement behind homes” where
“fences, sheds, plantings, and trees are in the way.”
With Geisendorfer’s impending resignation, the Service Board opted to table,
by a vote of 5-0, implementation of a new work-week schedule.
Under a ordinance enacted by the Town Council at its last meeting, the
work-week for plant operators is now defined as a seven-day affair,
beginning at 12 a.m. Saturday and ending at 12:59 p.m. Friday.
As Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson observed, however, the ordinance
does not require the work-week to be immediately scheduled, and members
decided to wait for the moment until a new superintendent—whenever one is
hired—is available to implement that work-week.
Searching for A
While they were at it, members voted 5-0 formally to accept Geisendorfer’s
resignation, effective Friday, May 21.
Geisendorfer has accepted a new position in Iowa.
Members then voted 5-0 to appoint O’Dell—as it has twice in the past—to the
position of interim superintendent.
Brandt said that the professional search firm originally retained to recruit
a new superintendent remains under contract and will conduct a new search at
no additional cost with the exception of expenses.
McCord took a moment at the end of the meeting to give a shout-out to the
collections and wastewater treatment plant employees “who put in extra” time
during the deluge early Thursday morning.
McCord also noted that the Street Department’s crew was out and about with
pumps that day.
“I know the community appreciates it,” McCord said.
April in Review
In April Chesterton used 50.13 percent of its 3,752,000 gallon per day (gpd)
allotment of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 58.16 percent of its
767,000 gpd allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 87.22
percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 54.11 percent
of its capacity.
There were no bypasses in April, a relatively wet month with 3.56 inches of
rain recorded at the plant.
In April the Utility ran a deficit of $192,488 and in the year-to-date is
running a deficit of $39,797.