Chesterton Tribune

Porter has hopes for drainage fix that won't hurt Hawthorne Park

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Porter town officials have opened a dialogue with Chesterton on possible ways to move Porter stormwater east to the Little Calumet River near Chesterton’s sewage treatment plant.

It’s believed Porter can save substantial money if it solves existing drainage problems occurring south of the Amtrak rail line by making improvements near Waverly Road and Woodlawn Avenue rather than directing water to the north.

A working group comprised of appointees from the Porter Town Council, Porter Redevelopment Commission and Porter Park Board met Thursday to review drainage scenarios prepared by Haas & Associates.

Until now, plans included bringing a storm sewer under Amtrak’s rails north of Woodlawn directing water through Hawthorne Park to the river.

Park Board members last year balked at the plan because it included open swales that could retain water and pose a hazard for unsupervised children playing at the park. Thursday, board members Rondi Wightman and Patty Raffin were encouraged that other alternatives are now available.

Hawthorne has a collapsed drainage pipe under Ackerman Drive that needs to be replaced; doing so and fixing a drainage problem on the east end of Franklin Street are being considered as possible freestanding projects, not part of the larger Woodlawn drainage system.

Much of the Woodlawn/Waverly stormwater work would be done in conjunction with Porter’s planned Orchard Pedestrian Way hike/bike trail from League Lane west to Waverly, then north eventually through Hawthorne.

The pedway would end at the entrance to the Hunters Glen townhomes.

Funded with a grant, a pedestrian bridge over the Little Calumet now dubbed “the bridge to nowhere” was installed a few years ago waiting for the trail to be built.

On the drawing board for seven years, actual pedway construction isn’t slated until 2013. It’s being funded primarily with an 80/20 federal grant administered by the Indiana Department of Transportation, but engineer Tim Haas said decisions need to be made now to keep the project moving.

Current plans call for a retaining wall with railing atop it along the depression area at the northeast corner of Waverly and Woodlawn. If the drainage south of Amtrak is to be solved there, the solution could include an underground detention structure and stormwater pump station somewhere in the area that possibly could feed into the Chesterton stormwater system.

Prior to those recent discussions, Haas had prepared optional scenarios for Porter’s pedway drainage work and for companion stormwater upgrades to be funded by the town. Costs ranged from a high of $681,486 for the pedway projects and a low of $126,379 for the town’s improvements.

Redevelopment Commission member Al Raffin commented, “I’m looking at these numbers and they’re huge.” He said an effort should be made to reduce construction costs yet be sure the problems are solved so they don’t have to be addressed again.

A second reason for last night’s meeting was to clarify the proposed pedway route through Hawthorne. Park Board members had considered it some years ago but Haas said the final route needs to be formally approved by the board so accompanying drainage plans can finalized.

The Park Board meets Tuesday at 7 p.m.

A related matter is how the Park Board, which owns Hawthorne, legally will provide land for the pedway to be built through the park. While a donation of land at one time was discussed, Town Council member Elka Nelson said the Park Board could grant a perpetual easement instead slightly wider than the 8 foot-wide trail to provide access for maintenance.

Redevelopment Commission and council member Jeannine Virtue asked for a timeline on how to proceed.

Haas said revised drainage plans could be prepared in about three weeks, presented to Porter officials and Chesterton town staff for review, and final discussions ready to take place in April or May.



Posted 2/7/2012