Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Waverly Road flooding relief is topic for Porter Park Board

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Following a lengthy presentation Monday, Porter Park Board members said they want more information about plans to relieve occasional Waverly Road flooding by routing stormwater through Hawthorne Park.

Porter director of engineering Matt Keiser and Warren Thiede of Haas & Associates engineers provided some answers but agreed to return to the Sept. 21 Park Board meeting with more.

The flooding to be addressed is on Waverly south of the Amtrack tracks where after heavy rain the road ponds on the west side.

Keiser said some swales at Hawthorne would be modified as a natural drainage way to the nearby Little Calumet River, but board members Patty Raffin and Rondi Wightman expressed concern that doing so might make those areas unusable as park land.

They also questioned if the swales would breed mosquitoes and leave standing water creating an attractive nuisance for children. Park superintendent Jim Miller asked if the swale system would experience negative impacts when the Little Calumet rises above its banks and backs up at the outflow into the park.

A prime concern was whether the drainage changes would create new liability for the park. Wightman said she doesn’t want something tragic to happen.

Thiede said some swales could be 6 1/2 to 7 feet deep but be 50 feet wide from top of the bank to top of the bank at a 3-to-1 slope that still could be mowed.

Keiser said it’s more a matter of embracing the stormwater plan and working with it, like placing large limestone rocks, than seeing it as a negative.

Rather than just conveying stormwater in a closed drainage pipe over a 35-second duration, he explained, it will take the water 5 to 10 minutes to clear away through the swales and improve its overall water quality.

But that will leave sediments, oils and hydrocarbons along the route. Wightman asked how long those will be left in the park’s swales. Thiede said over time it will collect and be a maintenance issue.

Raffin reminded Keiser and Thiede of the September, 2008 heavy rains that inundated Hawthorne west of the gazebo ponding for days creating an unsafe situation. Keiser said under the redesigned system, in 48 hours water will be gone so no mosquitoes will breed.

Thiede downplayed the Little Calumet’s propensity to overflow, but Raffin said it happens a good four times a year. To avoid reverse flooding, he said a flap gate could be intalled but that temporarily would slow down water leaving Hawthorne.

Raffin said the depth of the swales was disturbing. “That’s very substantial. It’s a park. There are people around it all the time.” Keiser said he and Thiede would return next month with cross sections and elevations to better illustrate the proposed system.

Park Board member Becky Maranto said there are cons in each scenario and it will be up to members to decide which ones are less toxic to the park.

In a related matter, Thiede said it now appears a 10 to 12-car parking lot will be built in Hawthorne’s northeast corner funded by the planned Orchard Pedestrian Way hike/bike trail, eliminating the need for the park to add a parking lot in that area.

Discovery brochure distributed

Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission executive director Lorelei Weimer distributed to Park Board members copies of the new Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail guide, five years in development.

Weimer said approximately 50 nature-based and historical sites were chosen to highlight and draw tourists away from the dunes beaches and into the local communities and beyond to extend their vacation stays.

The guide’s information has been added to the PCCRVC’s website and expanded there with a social-networking feature allowing people to blog what’s going on at the attractions, venues and trails. Where the guide might suggest generally when the lupines are in bloom, said Weimer, bloggers can relay info in real time.

Now that the sites have been chosen, she added, PCCRVC is working with site managers to develop them where possible to be more experiential for visitors, like buffering winds at a birdwatching spot.

Wiemer called Hawthorne Park, one of the guide’s listed attractions, the biggest jewel in downtown Porter.

Some board members indicated they would meet with Weimer this Friday at 9:30 a.m. at the visitor center to explore joint efforts. Weimer welcomed the suggestion that Park Department info be linked on the PCCRVC website.

Ash trees coming down

Although the bid was $25 higher, the Park Board voted 4-0 to accept the $1,900 proposal of Owens & Sons to remove four ash trees at Hawthorne due to emerald ash borer infestation. Miller said 16 ash trees there need to come out eventually.

Tree Removal’s proposal was $1,875 and that of Lumberjack $2,650.

Miller recommended Owens because it has removed trees recently for the Porter Public Works Department, and because they offered a price to bring down other trees that Park Department employees would cut up.

On another matter, the board split 3-1 agreeing to ask the Town Council for approximately $6,000 from the park’s 2011 share of CEDIT revenue; the money would be used to concrete the gravel floor of the new $19,973 park pole barn.

Miller said the fact the park won’t have to build the northeast Hawthorne parking lot will free up some cash. Proposals for the pole-barn concrete work range from $6,010 to $6,458.

Park liaison from the Town Council Jon Granat said, “You kind of need concrete in there before winter time.” According to Wightman, who voted no, “I’m very nervous spending that kind of money right now.”



Posted 8/17/2010




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