Chesterton Tribune

Porter seeks state deadline extension for sewer upgrade

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With Porter facing a state-mandated deadline of December, 2012 to make major sanitary-sewer upgrades and much work yet to do, the town is asking for an extension.

Project manager Warren Thiede of Haas & Associates engineers told the town Redevelopment Commission on Tuesday that a likely three-month extension will be sought to be sure the new Porter Avenue lift station, an approximately $1.8 million project, is fully operational.

Thiede told the Town Council at a later meeting that Porter has received notice of the station’s construction-permit approval from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The council OK’d advertising for lift-station bids beginning March 13 and receiving bids April 4. The work includes upgrading Porter sewer lines to the Chesterton sewage treatment plant.

Porter is in the process of obtaining a permanent easement for a parcel west of the current Porter Avenue lift station on which the new one would be built. Thiede said final acquisition of the easement would have to be completed prior to giving the winning bidder notice to proceed.

In a related matter, voting 4-0 with member Bill Cantrell absent the council gave Performance Pipelining Inc. authorization to begin a re-line of downtown Porter sanitary sewers. Base price was $2.3 million. Thiede said the work should begin in four to six weeks and take 180 days to complete.

During their meeting Redevelopment Commission members gave Haas & Associates the go-ahead to study whether the Triangle lift station can be upgraded or should be replaced. The station is in the Dunes Forest area and serves the Waverly Road corridor.

The overall sewer improvements are funded with a previous $4 million bond issue by the RDC and a $1 million bond issue by the Town Council.

Voting 5-0 Tuesday, RDC members gave the council authorization to oversee the lift station and re-lining projects although the RDC will continue to primarily finance them. After the meeting council president Greg Stinson said historically it’s the council and town employees, not the RDC, that manages town infrastructure.

Three of the five Town Council members also sit on the RDC.

In other council business, Stinson said the job search has begun to fill the new position of director of development/building commissioner, expected to pay between $49,000 and $60,000 depending on qualifications. An executive session is slated for Thursday to interview the first candidate. The new job combines two previous positions in town government; applications are still being accepted.

At its invitation the council also heard from Speros Batistatos, president/CEO of the Lake County-based South Shore Convention and Visitor Authority. He explained how SSCVA combines a hotel tax, riverboat admission fees and private-sector memberships to finance promotional activities that benefit Lake County as well as Northwest Indiana.

This area combined generates about the same amount of hospitality and tourism as does Indianapolis, said Batistatos. “That’s an important takeaway --- we have a shared economic engine important to our region.”

Unlike some tourism bureaus, Batistatos said SSCVA takes stands on issues like urging a uniform school start-date after Labor Day so the region doesn’t close its doors on tourists when other states are still welcoming them.

Stinson asked how interactive SSCVA is with Porter County tourism. Batistatos said as one example his group will be working with Lutheran Basketball at Valparaiso University, sending attendees coupons and tracking their visit with follow-up surveys.

Indiana Dunes Tourism is the tax-funded Porter County’s Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission.

In other business last night:

• If residents haven’t received their larger roll-box for recycling, please contact the town hall.

• The 2012 salary ordinance adopted in December was amended to include two positions that had been omitted and one that saw a salary increase after a probationary period.

• Police chief James Spanier won permission to spend up to $400 in town CEDIT money for a grant writer to sharpen the Police Department’s application for a 75/25 grant to fund the salary of a police officer for three years. The town would commit to keeping the officer for a fourth year at its expense.


Posted 2/29/2012