Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Open House Wednesday for Porter's proposed $30 million Gateway plan

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ďThis open house is a chance for the public to get informed of the Gateway Plan, and be able to ask one-on-one questions of the consultants,Ē according to Porter director of engineering and development Matt Keiser.

The open house takes place Wednesday at the town hall, 303 Franklin St. from 7 to 9 p.m.

Late last year Porter was designated lead agency and awarded a $1,816,500 grant from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Agency for Phase 1 of what could be an ultimately $30 million effort to make Indiana 49 an iconic gateway to the Indiana Dunes, where 3 million people visit Lake Michiganís state and federal parks annually.

Groundbreaking took place July 1 on the first Gateway initiative: stylized lighting, pilasters and lettering on a new bridge to be built soon over Indiana 49 at U.S. 20.

Other uses for the $1.8 million are an alternative transportation study; feasibility studies; engineering and design for Porterís 3.95-mile leg of the planned Dunes Kankakee Trail; and as a local match to fund construction of approaches and crossings for that trail near the Indiana 49/U.S. 20 intersection.

While an overview of the entire Gateway Project will be given tomorrow, a prime focus will be on the $240,000 portion that will result in development of a subarea plan to guide future Indiana 49 corridor development between Interstate 94 and the Indiana Dunes State Park.

Consultants will be seeking input on what kinds of uses --- retail/commercial, lodging, recreation-themed, restaurant or other --- that would best serve both tourists and local residents alike.

A key component of the Gateway Project is to bring jobs and opportunities through economic development that can serve as a springboard for similar revitalization along U.S. 20 into adjoining communities, even counties.

For that reason the list of project stakeholders includes Chesterton, Burns Harbor and the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce to help discuss and define project needs.

RDA executive director Bill Hanna has said the Gateway Project will upgrade the standards and attractability of Porter lots and zoning parcels that sit empty or are under-utilized near the Indiana 49/U.S. 20 area.

The Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commissionís main visitor center is located within the Gateway project scope along Indiana 49 on the only built lot of the platted Munson Place commercial development that otherwise has sat empty for years.

Porter is seeking an additional $19 million from the RDA for years two and three of the Gateway Project including $5 million for actual Dunes Kankakee Trail construction through town, and $4 million for a trail pedestrian bridge.

Porter has yet to finalize that trailís location although optional routes are being evaluated at this time.



Posted 7/27/2010




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