Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Porter forming joint committee to plan funding for $4.1 million sewer upgrade

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A new working group has been formed to figure out how the cost of a planned three-year, $4.1 million upgrade of Porter’s sanitary sewers will be allocated.

A combination of various funding options were laid out Monday including using cash on hand and anticipated taxes, state loans, a revenue bond sale and sewer rate hikes, the latter very preliminarily ranging from 27 percent to 44 percent.

A final decision will be up to the Town Council.

A key factor will be how much, or how little, of its own money the town’s Redevelopment Commission pledges toward the sewer projects. It meets Monday at 6 p.m.

The Town Council on Tuesday named president Michele Bollinger and member Jon Granat to the sewer working group; the Redevelopment Commission was asked to name two representatives.

Porter director of engineering Matt Keiser and utility clerk Sue Huyser round out the membership.

Unlike the Sewer Rate Study Committee, which for the past five weeks has met publicly to begin the sewer discussions, the council decided the working group won’t. Resident Jennifer Klug questioned the closed meetings, but town attorney Patrick Lyp said it was allowed.

Keiser said eventually town officials will make a public presentation detailing the state of Porter’s sewer collection system, the problems it’s causing some residents, and how upgrades already completed or currently in progress are making a substantial difference in their lives.

No longer do they have to limit showers or even flushes of the toilet, said Keiser.

He noted residents along Oak Hill Road who have had sewage in their basements are in the midst of a muddy sewer reconstruction there with a larger main being installed as well as new direct laterals that take septic holding tanks off-line.

Additionally, said Keiser, a reline of the collapsed Franklin Street sewer is going extremely well using technology that doesn’t require the traditional open-trench excavation.

Also Tuesday, the council voted unanimously approving a funding agreement with the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority regarding Porter’s $1,816,500 RDA grant for projects related to a Gateway to the Dunes revamp of the Indiana 49/U.S. 20 corridors. Porter had sought $19 million.

Keiser was designated contact person for the town, and the Porter Redevelopment Commission was asked to administer the grant and related projects.

Villas amendments OK’d

The council voted 4-0 with member Todd Martin absent giving final approval to changes in the 2006 ordinance that governs 18-unit Mineral Springs Villas, a planned unit development on 3.95 acres at the northeast corner of Beam Street and Mineral Springs Road.

“Let’s hope it gets built,” said Councilman Dave Babcock after the vote. So far only one duplex has been constructed.

Attorney William Ferngren, representing developer Larry Gough, said, “They want to have this done and quickly.” The Porter Plan Commission last month gave the proposed amendments a 5-1 favorable recommendation.

New completion dates tied to the PUD require a leg of the town’s planned 8 foot-wide Brickyard Trail to be built by Gough on the Villas’ west and south perimeters by May 31 of this year. A Villas gazebo near the bike trail and 13 overflow parking spaces for the subdivision must be built by November, 2011.

Among the changes are restricting paired-patio/duplex construction to Lots 7-12 and the balance of the PUD to single-family detached homes. The side yard setback for the latter residential units is 3 feet.

PUD language also was clarified specifying that the person who applies for a building permit will pay $1,200 per lot for the Porter Park Department; covenants will be amended to notify lot owners of that obligation.

The council waived installation of a passing blister on Beam Street at the Villas entrance, in part because there is a second entrance on Mineral Springs, said Ferngren.

He also said the property owners association or POA that will maintain the grounds and structures has been incorporated. Babcock asked if the POA will maintain the vacant lots, which last year grew into 5 foot-tall weeds. Ferngren said he’ll do everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Won’t bite on contract

The council took no action on a 2010 contract with the Porter County Animal Shelter for animal-control services after Porter police chief James Spanier recommended a delay.

Spanier said the town successfully has gone one year without a contract, and the town doesn’t have a temporay holding facility as the contract requires. He asked for time to study the matter.

Chesterton approved a contract with the county shelter for $6,076 Monday. Municipalities have balked at paying an additional fee for service when residents in unincorporated county areas aren’t required to do the same.

Porter’s Granat asked what his town should do. “Let sleeping dogs lie,” said Lyp, blushing after a spontaneous round of laughter from the approximately 35 persons in the audience, several of them firefighters.

On another police matter, Spanier said the department’s recently purchased truck that will be used for a new canine unit has arrived and is being equipped so it’s ready when K9 handler Officer Scott Cornilson begins training with his dog in April.

Fire Chief Lewis Craig Sr. said he will put $5,000 of the department’s CEDIT revenue this year up as the local match for a $5,000 state grant to buy five sets of bunker gear and helmets. Craig also warned persons to stay off the shoreline ice at Lake Michigan. “It’s dangerous. You could drop. You could be a couple stories off the ice and no ice below you.”

Public Works foreman Sarah Olsen said Porter has spread 11 tons of blacktop patch on roads, and Keiser said upgrades to sections of both Oak Hill and Waverly roads will begin relatively soon.

If a second round of federal stimulus funds are awarded Porter, he added, that money would be used to upgrade Woodlawn Avenue from Waverly Road east to Calumet Road.

Both Porter and Chesterton share jurisdiction for Woodlawn, as they do for 23rd Street. Chesterton is proposing to upgrade the latter from County Road 1100N to Marquette Road, also with new stimulus money.

“It should be a nice trade-off,” said Keiser.



Posted 3/10/2010




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