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
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
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
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,
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
Won’t bite on
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.