Chesterton Tribune

NIRPC to council: Dickinson Road extension regionally insignificant

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By KEVIN NEVERS

It only took about an hour for a couple of NIRPC officials to tell the Chesterton Town Council that the long-discussed Dickinson Road extension just doesn’t rate, when it comes to inclusion in the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission’s 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan (CRP).

At the council’s meeting Monday night, planning managers Bill Brown and Eman Ibrahim talked about demographics and residential centers and green infrastructure and brown fields.

They talked about congestion and urban redevelopment and sprawl and density.

They talked about integrated land use and multijurisdictional needs and public transit and social equity.

They talked about infill and agricultural assets and livability and economic revitalization.

At one point Brown even mentioned the Town of Chesterton—by 2040, he said, its population is projected to have grown by 42 percent and its employment by 29 percent—but then he quickly returned to his macro-discourse.

In fact Brown and Ibrahim talked for better than 45 minutes before getting to the nub of the gist: the Dickinson Road extension wasn’t included in the 2040 CRP—and thus isn’t eligible for federal funding streams—because it’s a “regionally insignificant” project.

Regionally insignificant, that is, chiefly due to the length of the proposed extension, which would link Indian Boundary Road to East Porter Ave. via Council Drive: under a mile.

Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, was having none of it. NIRPC, in rejecting the Dickinson Road extension as a 2040 project, apparently hasn’t even considered the public-safety issue: namely, that a north/south thoroughfare east of Ind. 49 is vital for emergency service response. Nor has NIRPC considered the economic-development issue: namely, that there’s “no connectivity on the east side of Ind. 49.”

“I’m not going to put a price on anybody’s life,” DeLaney added. “For it to be regionally insignificant, I can’t agree. NIRPC’s not opening its eyes for it not to be seeing this.”

The discussion concluded inconclusively, with members agreeing to think about implementing further studies which could possibly demonstrate the “regional significance” of the Dickinson Road extension.

 

Posted 6/13/2012