Why didnít the Porter Redevelopment Commission publicly discuss buying 31
acres in the heart of town for $350,000 before it approved the purchase Oct.
Thatís what three residents asked commission members Tuesday.
ďI donít recall any discussion about this before that,Ē said Bill Cantrell.
ďA lot of people donít understand that transaction.Ē He said people question
how a search for land for a new fire station expanded into the purchase of
Oct. 24 a town consultant told commission members the site can be
redeveloped into apartments, townhomes, condos, senior living units and
commercial uses; the commission agreed to solicit requests for proposals
seeking development partners.
The wooded parcel is a former brickyard at the southwest corner of Beam
Street and Sexton Avenue. The fire station would be at the northwest corner
of the parcel.
Jennifer Klug asked the commission since this is a public project with
public funds, shouldnít there have been more public discussion?
A closed commission executive session was held earlier this year to discuss
purchase or lease of real property.
Commission president Micheal Genger said town attorney Patrick Lyp, who was
absent Tuesday, was part of the process all along, a proposal from the
seller was brought to the commission and it was accepted publicly. Genger
said closing on the deal already has taken place.
Klug asked who would pay to make the site buildable, the town or a
developer? ďIíve got a bunch of questions and Iím sure a lot of people do,
Bill Suarez asked if the town had an appraisal demonstrating the $350,000
price was justified. Commission member Bruce Snyder said he didnít know if
the appraisal is public record but no decisions were made in executive
Suarez also asked if documents supporting the land transaction are part of
the commission minutes. Snyder said the town clerk-treasurer maintains
Cantrell addressed the commission as president of the Porter Stormwater
Management Board regarding periodic flooding on the west side of Waverly
Road just south of the Amtrak rail line. He said since the Stormwater Board
has limited funds, could the commission use its dedicated property-tax funds
to correct the problem?
Porter director of engineering and development Matt Keiser said some
drainage upgrades are planned to coincide with upcoming construction of the
Orchard Pedestrian Way hike/bike trail along Waverly, but a more
comprehensive stormwater project could be designed to include additional
The cost could be substantial to bore under the railroad and direct water by
gravity feed north to the Little Calumet River, advised Keiser, yet pipe
should be sized for future expansion of the system when the Orchard Pedway
actually is built.
Keiser said heíll develop cost estimates and options to relieve the flooding
problems. He suggested the Stormwater Board could pay for engineering for
the project if another board pays for construction.
Regarding a recent drainage project at the intersection of Waverly and Oak
Hill Road, Keiser said installation is complete and the system appears to be
Trails in final
Keiser reported both the Orchard Pedway and the Brickyard hike/bike trail on
the west side of town still are scheduled for construction next year.
He said he is reviewing engineering estimates before asking the commission
to decide whether to end the Orchard Pedway at the Orchard Apartments north
of Interstate 94 or to extend the trail a short distance to the north; the
trail begins at League Lane and Woodlawn and winds through Hawthorne Park.
Originally the pedway was to stop north of U.S. 20 on Waverly but
right-of-way problems and remonstrances prompted the change. Regional and
state agencies need to sign off on the amended design plan before it can be
let for bid.
Responding to a question from resident John Butz, Keiser said consulting
engineers currently are revising Brickyard trail plans to build bridges over
both U.S. 20 near Howe Road and over U.S. 12 rather than using