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