Chesterton Tribune



Parking changes for Seven Peaks lot approved by Porter; done for 2014 season

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A reconfigured parking plan for Seven Peaks Waterpark will be in place before the 2014 season begins, according to the new Porter attraction’s general manager.

The Porter Plan Commission on Thursday approved a site plan for the west parking lot, but subject to town building commissioner Mike Barry’s final review of the plans.

Seven Peaks manager Matthew Phair said adding a new north entrance off Waverly Road with double lanes to increase stacking space will take waiting cars off Waverly faster; vehicles will be directed to a new ticket booth at the far northwest corner of the parking lot.

The lot’s current entrance/exit off Waverly closer to U.S. 20 will become an exit only upon completion of the new entrance.

Representing Seven Peaks, Jeffrey Oltmanns of Global Engineering and Land Surveying said the parking modifications are only Phase 1 of a master plan for the parking area. If visitation dictates, Phase 2 could add more parking spaces by graveling the current overgrowth areas; future improvements could include asphalting the lot itself and adding a turn lane on Waverly if possible.

When Seven Peaks purchased the former Splash Down Dunes waterpark last year, the company’s Utah owner said a pedestrian tunnel under Waverly Road was a possibility to provide safer passage between the parking lot on the west side and the actual waterpark venue on the east side.

After Thursday’s meeting, Phair said as more phases of the Seven Peaks project are developed, additional improvements including a pedestrian tunnel will be discussed. For now, “We’re trying to pull (waiting vehicles) off Waverly to make it safe as we continue to grow.”

Plan Commission member and town police chief James Spanier supported moving the entrance to the north, calling it imperative for safety. Other commission members backed his request for some kind of fence to direct pedestrians where to cross at Waverly.

Member Ken Timm said he was stopped four times in one pass past the waterpark because of crossing pedestrians.

Commission president John Kremke said Seven Peaks representatives need to meet with Barry, who cited a number of things missing from the parking plans like drainage calculations during an earlier staff review. Town planner Jim Mandon said those matters deal with issuance of a building permit, not Plan Commission involvement.

Commission vote to approve Phase 1 of the parking master plan was 5-0 with member Brenda Brueckheimer absent and member Elka Nelson recusing herself because she has a business relationship with Seven Peaks.

After the meeting Phair confirmed in the coming weeks Seven Peaks hopes to open the former Westchester Lanes bowling alley in Chesterton that it acquired last month. Over the next 12 to 18 months cosmetic renovations are planned inside and outside for bowling, a games arcade and reopened restaurant.

Like Seven Peaks waterpark, the bowling alley won’t be open on Sunday but will be a participating venue in Seven Peaks’ Pass of all Passes promotion that allows entry into various regional attractions. Phair said the pass program has been well received by the public and participating partners.

In other Porter Plan Commission business, planned discussion regarding C&C Development --- the subject of legal action between developers and the town since 2008 --- did not take place. A scheduled closed executive session last night for commission members to discuss litigation was canceled yesterday.

The commission also unanimously approved primary and secondary plat approval in one night as a minor subdivision for Jim Chlebowski. He is combining Lots 39 and 40 in Wagner Hills subdivision to build a larger home. No one commented during a public hearing. No future driveway access will be allowed off Wagner Road.

The Porter Board of Zoning Appeals met briefly Thursday and set a public hearing Sept. 18 for Al Raffin, who said he replaced a rotting split-rail fence in his front yard at 451 Waverly Rd. without knowing a variance to have a fence in a front yard should have been obtained first.


Posted 8/22/2013