The Burns Harbor Town Council accepted the proposal of Weaver Boos
Consultants to prepare a preliminary green-development plan for the town at
a cost not to exceed $10,000.
Weaver Boos civil manager John Talbot told the council Wednesday that Burns
Harbor is a community rich in natural assets and has a lot of opportunities
to improve its quality of life and economic-development potential.
Council member Gene Weibl said he reached out to Weaver Boos because it has
a history of getting grants. Talbot said the firm secured over $5 million in
the last three years for Northwest Indiana.
Weibl said with Weaver Boos’ help and influence the town can begin
conversations about jump-starting projects in its comprehensive plan, and
secure grants for a proposed hike/bike trail along the Little Calumet River.
Firm plans could lead to corporate partnerships, he added.
Talbot said not only would his firm identify and prioritize
green-development projects without duplicating past studies, but it also
would go with town officials to meet potential funding sources like the
Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and the Northwestern
Indiana Regional Planning Commission.
Weibl said if the town’s concerned about implementation of its goals, it
needs help “if we want to get things moving and hit the ground running with
Porter received a $19 million grant from the RDA disbursed in phases to plan
and implement its Gateway to the Indiana Dunes tourism/economic-development
program along the U.S. 20/Indiana 49 corridors. Some projects are completed
or underway now.
Weibl noted that although a bike trail has been proposed to parallel Burns
Harbor’s east branch of the Little Calumet River, it could include sidewalks
along Haglund Road and additional spurs into other areas of town.
Weaver Boos directed its original proposal to the town’s Advisory Plan
Commission last week but the commission doesn’t have money for consultants.
Council member and commission president Jeff Freeze asked if the commission
should continue with the project now that it’s funded.
The council majority decided to leave oversight with the council adding that
in the future the town’s Redevelopment Commission, which hasn’t met this
year, might take on some of the individual projects.
The Weaver Boos contract wasn’t on the published agenda. During public
comment later in the meeting resident Phyllis Constantine said she keeps
reading that the town is short of money, so how can it justify the Weaver
Boos expenditure? The $10,000 would be better spent on other projects like
road repairs, not on something residents don’t need, she stated.
Replied Weibl, “Working with Weaver Boos will bring far more money to the
town than the $10,000. Hold me to that.”
Former Town Council member Cliff Fleming suggested Burns Harbor form a
community foundation to accept funds to leverage future grants. He also
praised the council decision Wednesday to pay off early a bond issue sold
years ago to finance installation of municipal sewers.
Doing so will free up RDC money that during repayment has been totally
committed to sewer-bond debt service but now can go to implementing the
comprehensive plan, Fleming added.
A public hearing was conducted and no comment heard on the approved
appropriation of $1,411,016 to pay off the bonds. That amount includes a
temporary $168,100 loan from the rainy day fund that will be repaid in
Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan said state tax officials have to approve the
loan to make retiring the bonds next month possible instead of in January,
2016. Early repayment will save $64,000.
Awarded Wednesday were four scholarships to town residents to help continue
their education. A scholarship committee disburses revenue the town receives
annually by leasing a parcel it owns for a cellular communications tower.
Named as 2013 scholarship recipients and present for their award were Kora
Jansen, 18, for Purdue University West Lafayette and Brendan Freeze, 20, for
Purdue North Central. Absent were recipients Danielle Friday and Kayla