Chesterton Tribune

Can't agree on a price? Porter to condemn land for Brickyard Trail

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The Porter Town Council authorized its attorney Tuesday to initiate condemnation proceedings to acquire a parcel needed for the Brickyard hike/bike trail.

The Porter Redevelopment Commission, which is administering construction of the trail, asked the council to condemn a portion of street frontage at the southwest corner of Howe Road and U.S. 20.

The RDC will pay costs related to the condemnation, but it must be undertaken by the Town Council.

Council president and RDC member Greg Stinson said there’s an extremely large gap between what the town offered the property owners and what they are asking. The delay is holding up work on the trail’s newly placed pedestrian bridge at Howe Road over U.S. 20.

The bridge includes large caged switchbacks parallel to U.S. 20 on either side of it to gradually increase the angle of approach.

Said Stinson, “We’ve got a bridge and a trail and a gap in it we can’t get done because of this easement.”

It took nearly a decade from the time the Brickyard trail was awarded about $2 million in federal grants for construction actually to begin last year. The RDC is paying for the balance of the trail cost.

Also at last night’s meeting, the RDC accepted a second owner’s counteroffer to acquire a separate Howe Road easement south of U.S. 20 for the trail; documents are being prepared.

In a related matter, Porter director of development Mike Barry said it will cost $480 to repair two sections of damaged Brickyard Trail fence on the west side of Sexton Avenue that were damaged several weeks ago when a tree fell on it; the RDC approved the expenditure.

Beach clean-up coming

Porter Public Works director Brenda Brueckheimer said the town will participate in the Aug. 15 Alliance for the Great Lakes water clean-up day by sponsoring that activity at Porter Beach. Volunteers are asked to meet at 9 a.m. at the circle at the north end of Wabash Avenue.

Council member Elka Nelson thanked Brueckheimer for placing new signage at the beach including posted speed limits. “It’s made a world of difference.”

Brueckheimer said the Street Department has been dealing with downed trees from recent storms and she asked residents to please be patient and call to arrange for brush pick-up.

Also Tuesday, the council voted 4-1 with Nelson dissenting to approve final reading of an ordinance that sets a new $20 fee for zoning petitioners. The money will pay for a town employee to provide the names of contiguous property owners who receive notice of a pending zoning public hearing. Typically such names are provided by the Porter County Assessor’s office.

After the meeting Nelson said she voted no on having the town supply names because it could become “an accident waiting to happen.”

Sticks with insurance

The council voted 5-0 to retain its current insurance carrier and administrator after reviewing proposals previously submitted. Stinson said the package contains the same coverages, fee structure and co-pay for employees.

He described it as pretty remarkable that the renewal comes at just a 3 percent increase for the town.

In Fire Department business, at the request of chief Lewis Craig Sr. the council agreed to disburse a $1,349 insurance check to a vendor to replace the department’s rubber boat damaged at a dive call.

The council also allowed the Fire Department to spend $6,200 of the $7,100 left in its CEDIT account to pay for engine repairs.

Park superintendent Jim Miller said there are still openings for the Aug. 6, 7 and 9 Let the Kiddo’s Do the Cooking class at Hawthorne Park. Fee is $20 per child for instruction and supplies. Contact the Park Department to register.

Tuesday was the first meeting for new Town Council member David Wodrich, chosen July 12 by a Democratic caucus to replace Ward 1 councilman Bill Cantrell, who resigned.


Posted 7/24/2012