Chesterton Tribune

Gateway project officially added to Porter comprehensive plan

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The Porter Town Council voted 5-0 Tuesday to add the Gateway to the Indiana Dunes project to the Porter comprehensive plan that guides future development there.

The Porter Plan Commission gave the Gateway’s sub-area plan a favorable recommendation in April with the understanding it can be modified if necessary in the future.

Council president Trevin Fowler said the Gateway represents a historic plan for Porter’s future prosperity and is the best option available despite mixed reviews from the public.

“This has been a plan of considerable discussion, research and review,” Fowler noted.

July, 2010 the Porter Redevelopment Commission held a groundbreaking for the first work tied to the Gateway --- construction by the Indiana Department of Transportation of a new Indiana 49 bridge over U.S. 20 that is nearing completion with stylized elements added at Porter’s request.

Almost $6 million of a $19 million grant to Porter from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority has been authorized for release to fund several Gateway studies and related work.

The Gateway’s purpose is to bring tourism and economic development to the Indiana 49 corridor and adjacent areas creating a more welcoming and pedestrian-friendly experience for visitors to the Indiana Dunes State Park.

Among the proposed land-use concepts, including INDOT changes to Indiana 49 itself north of Interstate 94, are a hotel, conference center, indoor/outdoor water park, rental vacation villas, general commercial and retail development as well as transit shuttle services to manage increased traffic demand.

A key feature of the Gateway is construction of the first phase of the new Dunes Kankakee Trail that generally will parallel Indiana 49 from the State Park to the Kankakee River. Each local community along the route will be responsible for building and maintaining its own section of the trail; portions in the unincorporated areas will be the responsibility of Porter County.

The Town of Porter’s trail section is currently in the design phase and will be funded with the RDA grant. Chesterton hasn’t announced a route or funding choice for its portion of the trail.

According to Porter director of engineering Matt Keiser, a public hearing was held Monday seeking input and suggestions for the Dunes Kankakee. A committee of stakeholders hosted the meeting in Porter with a goal of establishing consistent standards for the trail, its signage and amenities like restrooms.

Porter County has received a $500,000 federal appropriation, said Keiser, to fund needed changes at the Indiana 49 and U.S. 20 cloverleaf to accomodate the trail, which he said will be a premiere recreational feature of the region.


Posted 7/13/2011