Putting in launches for kayaks and canoes along the Little Calumet River in
Porter will bring people into its downtown rather than bypassing it.
That’s the hope of town director of engineering Matt Keiser, who told the
Porter Redevelopment Commission on Tuesday that work’s under way to clear
the overgrowth and log jams that block river passage.
The Wildlife Habitat Council that specializes in ecological restoration is
providing volunteer labor. The town’s received a $3,500 grant from
ArcelorMittal for the project, said commission and Town Council member
Michele Bollinger, and at her request the commission unanimously approved
spending $2,500 to complete it.
In addition, FLEXCOR of Hammond is donating materials needed for
soon-to-be-built launches at the Waverly Road and Mineral Springs Road river
“These aren’t going to be fancy launches,” said Bollinger. “Yes, they’ll be
permanent, but the hope is someday people will use what’s coming at the
She was referring to downtown Hawthorne Park, where plans have been
discussed for a kayak/canoe rental and launch near the popular community
building. Restoration work along the river approach northeast of the
building has been ongoing for some time under the supervision of volunteer
Lyp asked who will maintain the Porter boat launches once built; Bollinger
said the town Public Works Department likely will.
Lyp said since a portion of the Little Calumet River is in a designated town
economic development area and the upgraded launch facilities will serve the
interests of that district, approving the $2,500 is a legitimate commission
After the meeting Keiser was asked if warnings, similar to the Lake Michigan
E.coli beach warnings, will have to be issued for boaters along the Little
Calumet if the Chesterton sewage treatment plant or a Porter lift station
bypasses untreated/partially treated sewage into the river following heavy
Keiser said there’s a difference between recreation on Lake Michigan and the
river. “Kayaking and canoeing are supposed to be out of the water, not
bathing or drinking or putting your fingers in it.”
After last month thinking the commission may have to up-front some money if
it wanted to keep the planned Orchard Pedestrian Way hike/bike trail on
track, Keiser reported the Federal Highway Administration on Friday approved
an additional $125,000 for the project.
Previously $1.3 million in federal money was approved.
Attention turns now, said Keiser, to determining what aspects of the pedway
appropriately can be assigned to Porter’s future leg of the planned Dunes
Kankakee Trail that will intersect and could in part parallel the pedway.
For this reason pedway signage and amenities should be consistent with the
larger trail’s look, he said.
The Dunes Kankakee will begin at the Indiana Dunes State Park and pass
through Porter and Chesterton proceeding south generally along the Indiana
49 corridor eventually to the Kankakee River.
Porter received $911,500 from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development
Authority for Phase 1 engineering and design related to its 3.95-mile Dunes
Kankakee segment. Porter is seeking additional RDA money for that trail’s
Keiser said by coordinating its trails Porter can avoid duplication of
efforts and get the most bang out of the town’s buck.
Redevelopment Commission president Bruce Snyder said the trails will link
with the Porter County visitor center at Indiana 49 and be an optimal mode
of transportation to and through Porter. “Once we get this done I think it
will be very special.”
Keiser updated commission members regarding ongoing planning and timetables
for the town’s proposed 31-acre Brickyard residential/commercial development
at the southwest corner of Beam Street and Sexton Avenue.
Member Al Raffin asked if a development partner is involved in the process
According to Snyder, “We’re not really sure when the developer would step
in” although interest by potential partners has been expressed.
Lyp said the commission could solicit a generalized request for
qualifications and proposals, but that could turn into a free-for-all. He
recommended the commission firm up its larger template for what the project
will look like and what members are looking for in a private partner before