Chesterton Tribune

Porter RedCom solicits input for survey tied to new downtown master plan

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Porterís Redevelopment Commission dealt with several matters Tuesday including a survey tied to a new downtown master plan, a possible expansion of Porterís TIF allocation area, and a report on the feasibility of drainage improvements to State Park Road.

RDC president Elka Nelson said of the downtown community survey, ďItís not a vote. Itís for input and feedback until we take the next step forward.Ē

Part of the new master plan is to define what Porterís downtown is. Consultant SEH could propose changes or no changes, said Nelson. ďWeíre open to as much feedback as we can get.Ē

Planned within the next seven to 14 days is posting the survey on the Porter town website so residents can digitally respond; hard copies of the survey also will be available at the town hall. Nelson invited the public to email her with questions.

Porter officials are developing plans for the Gateway to the Indiana Dunes tourism/economic development project along the Indiana 49/U.S. 20 corridors, but the intent all along has been to strengthen and promote Porterís downtown rather than detract from it.

On another matter, the RDC is considering expanding its existing TIF allocation area to include the former Splash Down Dunes waterpark, where its planned purchase could mean up to $2 million in new upgrades there.

The current TIF allocation area includes all of Porterís downtown and some of the properties adjacent to U.S. 20 including Worthington Steel, said Porter financial consultant Dan Botich of Cender & Co.

Nelson said current RDC members are doing preliminary factfinding. The previous Porter administration proposed a TIF expansion but thereís no record of one being passed and completed, she noted.

Botich gave a brief overview of the complex tax-increment financing or TIF process that allows Porterís RDC to capture the value of new improvements above the base assessment of a certified date. Porterís current TIF captures $45.6 million in value and sets it aside for Porter and apart from other taxing units.

That means Porterís RDC, not the Town Council, receives about $1 million a year, said Botich, compared to only $22,000 that would be raised in the townís cumulative fund if TIF were not in place. ďNot a bad deal,Ē he observed.

Botich said the RDC can choose not to capture all the assessed valuation possible, and an RDC can return a portion of its TIF collection to schools as Valparaiso does to defray the impact to a schoolís capital projects cumulative fund.

Nelson asked if TIF money can be used for technology infrastructure; Botich said yes, as long as it is in or serves an allocation area.

Also Tuesday, the RDC voted to increase the original $45,000 contract with Global Engineering and Land Surveying to a maximum $74,000 for an ongoing hydraulic study of State Park Road between Waverly Road and Indiana 49.

The intent of the study is to determine how best to make drainage improvements to the road. Nelson said State Park is heavily traveled.

Hesham Khalil of Global said a delineation has been completed and wetlands are very close to the road so it would be difficult to do any construction without affecting them. Additionally, State Park doesnít have right-of-way all the way east to Indiana 49. He said one option is to build a new road between Waverly and 49 about 800 feet south of State Park on a platted but undeveloped right-of-way.

In other business, the RDC voted 5-0 to approve purchase of land tied to ongoing projects but on the recommendation of director of development Michael Barry agreed to schedule a closed executive session to discuss other parcels needed.




Posted 6/27/2012