About a month ago,
members of the Chesterton Branding Leadership Team--Street Commissioner John
Schnadenberg, Town Engineer Mark O’Dell, and MS4 Operator Jennifer Gadzala--approached
the Town Council with something along the lines of a revolutionary idea: to
broaden the sidewalk in the 200 block of Broadway: between, that is Spike &
Buddy’s and O’Gara & Wilson’s.
Doing so would
create space for al fresco dining and shade-making trees and could be
an important step in revitalizing the Downtown, Gadzala noted at the time.
On Monday night,
Schnadenberg, O’Dell, and Gadzala presented the next iteration of the
concept: because widening the sidewalk would mean replacing angled parking
in the 200 block of Broadway with parallel parking--and a concomitant loss
of five spaces--it occurred to the Branding Leadership Team to replace the
parallel parking in the 100 block and 300 block of West Indiana with angled
parking, for a net gain in the Downtown of some 20 spaces.
sidewalk on Broadway would still leave a 14-foot eastbound maneuver lane,
O’Dell said. Angled parking on West Indiana Ave., on the other hand, would
reduce the two lanes there to one, but that’s not a problem inasmuch as West
Indiana Ave. is one-way only anyway. O’Dell added that the parallel spaces
in front of the Westchester Public Library would be left as is, since so
many patrons double-park there for as long as it takes to drop off books and
One other slight
complication, O’Dell said: replacing the angled parking on Broadway with
parallel parking will eliminate two handicapped spaces, which legally must
be replaced somewhere else in the Downtown.
“Just letting you
know where we’re at on this,” O’Dell said. “We’re still working on it.”
DeLaney, R-5th, and Jim Ton, R-5th, were enthusiastic about the concept,
wondering whether this is a project which might actually be completed this
year. “I don’t know about doing it this year,” Schnadenberg said. “If the
Town Council wants to make a priority of it, then we’ll make it a priority.”
“We should work on
doing this sooner rather than later,” Ton urged. “I think this concept is
say that businesses would need to be consulted about the best time of the
season to do the work, since their operations would definitely be impacted.
“We’ll have to break up a bunch of concrete in front of the stores.”
that the Branding Leadership Team continue to work on the details and
logistics and report back.
Ton took a moment
at the end of the meeting to heap praise on The Three Musketeers, as he
called Schnadenberg, O’Dell, and Gadzala, who have been active not only on
the Rebranding Leadership Team but in the grant-writing arena, working on
Community Crossings grants and the latest NIRPC grant for Phase III of the
Westchester-Liberty Trail. “The three of them are very efficient,” he said.
“And they deserve credit and our thanks. Those grants aren’t easy to write
and they do a superb job.”
DeLaney, for his
part, thanked all of the department heads for their contributions to the
sidewalk-widening concept. “I think this is a wonderful thing,” he said.
While he was at it,
DeLaney took a moment of his own to quote two Downtown merchants who
approached him this weekend to say: “What a vibrant Downtown this is.” And
DeLaney said that he couldn’t help but agree with them. There was virtually
no parking to be had in the Downtown either Friday or Saturday night, which
wasn’t the case even a few years ago.
“I think we can
remember when that wasn’t the case,” Ton observed.
“The Downtown is going through change and it’s a good change,” he said.
Schnadenberg had a
few thank-yous of his own. First, to Gadzala, Pat Carlisle, Chris Acton,
Mark Hopkins, and Kathy Pliske--members of the Branding Leadership Team and
volunteers--for installing planters and hanging flower baskets in the
Downtown. “We’ll water them and try to keep them alive,” Schnadenberg joked.
Schnadenberg thanked the Indiana Department of Transportation for removing a
heavy growth of brush from the east side of Ind. 49, next to Wendy’s and the
old Kmart. Schnadenberg said that INDOT next plans to install a fence along
that stretch of Ind. 49. “They did a great job.”