Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Porter Gateway to the Dunes project to launch with ceremonial groundbreaking

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By PAULENE POPARAD

The town of Porter is going to kick off the first project in its planned $30 million Gateway to the Dunes initiative with a ceremonial groundbreaking July 1.

Several federal, regional, state and local officials are invited to the 10 a.m. ceremony and the Porter Redevelopment Commission authorized spending up to $2,000 for a tent, chair rental and refreshments for the event.

Pending resolution of a labor strike by union teamsters, the Indiana Department of Transportation plans to begin work soon on bridge enhancements that will beautify bridges along Indiana 49 over U.S. 20 and 12.

The work is part of several projects Porter has proposed to revitalize those corridors for economic development and to lure Indiana dunes tourists into local communities.

Among the projects are developing a transportation service linking the South Shore station with area attractions and businesses, building the north leg of the new Dunes Kankakee hike/bike trail, and making road upgrades and modifications to Indiana 49, the latter undertaken by INDOT.

Porter as lead agency has asked the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority for $19 million to carry out its plans; the RDA approved $1.8 million so far. The $2,000 groundbreaking cost may be eligible for RDA reimbursement.

Voting Tuesday, the Redevelopment Commission ap-proved a claim for $180,000 to pay INDOT for adding lettering, lighting sconces, concrete pilasters and other amenities to a bridge. The move was a back-up in the event the promised RDA check doesn’t arrive in time.

Commission member Michele Bollinger is coordinating the July 1 ceremony and president Bruce Snyder called it “a very big event.”

Trail, parking lot advance

In other business, town director of engineering Matt Keiser said construction is slated to begin this fall on the long-delayed Porter Brickyard hike/bike trail, and a sidewalk extension will be part of planned development of a downtown parking lot on the north side of Lincoln Street, boosting the latter cost above the initial $24,000 budgeted.

Keiser also reported an engineering firm will be selected to prepare preliminary plans for the Beam Street parcel, a former brickyard, that the commission purchased for $350,000 last year. Engineering is required to have the site zoned as a planned unit development making it more attractive to potential developers.

The commission recently paid $197,000 to purchase additional sewage capacity for the brickyard project, which is intended to be a mix of residential uses with limited neighborhood commercial.

Bond plans firming up

Under a preliminary schedule laid out Tuesday the Redevelopment Commission would sell $5.1 million in revenue bonds Aug. 18 with closing Aug. 31.

First a public hearing on the sale would take place July 27.

The money will be used to finance badly needed upgrades to the town’s sanitary-sewer collection system and lift stations. The Redevelopment Commission will be responsible for repaying $4.1 million and the Town Council $1 million with interest over a term not to exceed 15 years

Financial consultant Karl Cender distributed a preliminary bond resolution but Snyder said commission members needed time to digest it before voting. Cender said its adoption at the July 13 meeting won’t delay the timing of the bond sale.

Commission member Al Raffin, who has asked several questions about how the sale will be structured, was absent Tuesday.

The commission also set a closed executive session to discuss land acquisition for June 29 at 6 p.m. in the town hall meeting room.

 

Posted 6/24/2010

 

 

 

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