Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Burns Harbor residents eager to speak out as board meets in person

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By LILY REX

Burns Harbor residents were eager to have their voices heard at the Burns Harbor Town Council’s meeting Wednesday night where several people took advantage of the Council allowing members of the public to attend in-person.

The meeting was also broadcast over Facebook live, where concerned residents commented as the meeting progressed. Council member Toni Biancardi reported every socially-distanced seat set out in the Town Hall was full.

Several Facebook commenters were most interested in mosquito fogging. Some in-person attendees voiced concerns about drainage issues in the Village subdivision and speeding drivers in Trail Creek. One woman spoke up to ask about safe policing in Burns Harbor following recent protests against police brutality that have swept the nation.

The Town Council approved mosquito fogging at a rate of one application every three weeks through August. There will be four applications for a cost of $850 each, or $3,400 total. Council Vice-president Eric Hull said he still doesn’t believe the fogging works, but he can’t say no when so many people ask for it.

The Council was less able to immediately help those who complained about drainage in the Village, since the problem originates on privately owned as-of-yet undeveloped lots.

Hull did report, however, that Global Engineering will provide some oversight in the form of requiring a professional engineer or surveyor to approve future site plans.

Hull said the Town doesn’t have right-of-way to add infrastructure to help solve the problem, and the issue is between property owners. Expertise from the Town’s sanitation and building departments is available for residents who are working with their neighbors on solutions, he said.

As for speeding, discussions continue about freshening the paint on crosswalks and the legality of installing speed humps to deter speeders. Town Attorney Clay Patton said he’s looking into the issue of speed humps, which are less obtrusive than speed bumps. The Town received a quote of $6,000 for crosswalk painting on up to 40 crosswalks, but they held off on approval last night in order to finalize a list of crosswalks because adding more after a list has been submitted would incur an extra $1,000 mobilization fee, Biancardi said.

The resident who asked about safe policing said she came to the meeting “because of the affairs of the world and to know how we can make our community safer.”

“I’m not scared. I’m feeling empathy,” she said. “We’ve got a great neighborhood. I really love the diversity, and I want everyone to feel welcome.”

She suggested the BHPD could put out resources telling people their rights and explaining how complaints are dealt with. She also suggested a meet and greet with officers.

The resident said she wasn’t quite sure how to start the conversation, but thought it should be had. She also said it’s a conversation not just about discrimination, but also about preventing false accusations and providing adequate resources.

Police Chief Mike Heckman said he’s more than willing to sit down with people who have questions and is open to a meet and greet. Heckman says when he receives a complaint, an internal investigation is conducted, and accusations found to have merit are turned over to Indiana State Police.

Biancardi liked the meet and greet idea and suggested the annual Town Picnic be a venue for it. “I’ve grown up here, and I love it, I love what you’re here to say,” Biancardi said. “I bet a lot of others care as well.”

Heckman for his part, said BHPD officers wear body cameras, and he doesn’t tolerate their misuse, “If they’re turned off, we’ve got a problem.”

Heckman said he also tries to epitomize community policing by making sure his officers are friendly and recognizable faces. The overwhelming majority of people BHPD make contact with are white, Heckman said.

In related business, and following the resignation last week of a Chesterton Town Council member who commented, “Get the snowplows out!” about a video of a Hammond protest, Council President Nick Loving took a moment to say inappropriate social media activity from Burns Harbor officials and employees, including posting, sharing, liking, and commenting, will not be tolerated.

“It will be dealt with swiftly and harshly. This is the one warning people are going to get. There are no second chances, and no appeals will even be considered,” Loving said. He urged department heads to make this “abundantly clear” to their employees.

Other Business

In other business, Parks Director Kim Burton reported Burns Harbor’s playgrounds are expected to open Friday in line with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Back on Track Indiana plan. The beach at Lakeland Park will open, and the park will start charging gate fees, Saturday. All summer camps are canceled, but a youth archery event is tentatively scheduled for July 18.

Large item trash pickup is June 25.

The Council voted to stay a member of AIM in 2020 and pay $3,833 in annual dues.

Biancardi said someone from the Town would reach out to Walsh and Kelly, the company doing Burns Harbor’s 2020 paving projects, in response to them leaving their grindings on a vacant property on North Salt Creek Road.

The Council asked Patton to contact Chesterton about a proposed first-right-of-refusal agreement related to Chesterton’s donation of its old mobile command center to the BHFD. The agreement would require that the Town offer the donated vehicle back to Chesterton at no cost in the event it is decommissioned.

 

Posted 6/12/2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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