the Burns Harbor Town Council approved applying for a total $4 million in
federal grants and agreed to ask the Northwest Indiana Regional Development
Authority for the required 20 percent local match.
Weibl, who’s been preparing the grant package, said the town shouldn’t have
to pay anything out-of-pocket to build a 2.6-mile hike/bike trail along the
Little Calumet River corridor to connect with the Porter Brickyard Trail at
Howe Road on the east and a planned trail through the Ameriplex business
park in Portage on the west.
The Burns Harbor
trail is a missing segment in the Marquette Plan’s goal of a continuous
trail between Illinois and Michigan.
The Town Council
resolution authorizing the grant application was not listed on the meeting
agenda. The trail would cross Salt Creek, a NIPSCO easement and follow the
north and south sides of the Little Calumet on property owned by the
National Park Service.
The trail was
included as a sub-area project in the town’s previously adopted
Alternatives Program or TAP grants being sought use federal highway trust
funds. Weibl said $2 million would be requested this year and $2 million in
2015. The money is administered through the Northwestern Indiana Regional
Council member Greg
Miller asked what are the chances the RDA will give the town $800,000 over
two years for the as-yet unnamed trail.
Weibl said, “A lot
of people are doing a lot of scambling behind the scenes” to secure a
funding commitment. If one’s not forthcoming, the project likely won’t
proceed at this time, he said.
grant application contains two emails in support: from incoming Indiana
Dunes National Lakeshore superintendent Paul Labovitz, and from Lorelei
Weimer, executive director of Indiana Dunes Tourism. Both emails are
directed to the RDA.
After the meeting
Weibl addressed concerns raised previously by town residents that the Little
Calumet corridor at times floods, and that unprocessed sewage from an
upstream treatment plant sometimes floats downstream. Weibl said Chesterton
has taken and plans to take additional steps to reduce sewage overflows, and
that occassional corridor flooding can be addressed through sound trail
"The trick will be
how much (of the trail) is on high ground and how much stays along the
river.” He noted several agencies and organizations are committed to
cleaning up the Little Calumet as a navigable river for recreation purposes.
As for maintenance
of the completed trail, Weibl said while there should be no cost to Burns
Harbor to build it, initially trail maintenance might fall to the town but
eventually his hope is that the NPS agrees to do it.
“It’s going to be a
beautiful trail,” Weibl added.
In other business,
the council set May 27 at 6 p.m. as a public workshop to consider a contract
with Superior Ambulance Service to take over primary advanced-life-support
ambulance response in town. Superior currently has a contract with
Chesterton to provide the same service.
Early this year the
Burns Harbor Fire Department discontinued its own ALS service after it
proved not to be financially feasible.
The Porter County
ambulance service through Porter Regional Hospital moved an ALS rig into the
fire station and provides quality care, said councilman Mike Perrine, but an
ambulance isn’t always available here when needed.
Perrine said it
appears Burns Harbor would do better by going with Superior, and for the
time being Porter will continue to serve the town.