Last summer, the
Chesterton Branding Leadership Team (CBLT) conducted the Downtown Chesterton
Survey to learn what residents and non-residents do in Downtown Chesterton,
what activities and businesses they want in the Downtown, and whether they
support Chesterton’s becoming a quiet/safe train zone.
The final report is
available at visitchesterton.com
The CBLT’s mission
is to create and support a vibrant, thriving Chesterton that celebrates the
“art of life” while
enhancing the community’s historical charm. “To create a vibrant Downtown we
need to know what residents and non-residents value in Downtown Chesterton,
which is why the CBLT conducted the survey,” said Lorelei Weimer, co-chair
of the CBLT and the executive director of the Porter County Convention,
Recreation, and Visitor Commission.
Craig O’Brien, also
a CBLT member who owns a Downtown building and Ashley’s Jewelry By Design,
added, “The survey provides valuable information to the Chesterton
leadership, which includes the elected officials, members of town boards and
commissions, and the town department heads. The information from this survey
will guide them as they make future decisions about the Downtown.”
A total of 1,361
people completed the survey, a large enough sample size to mean that data
are accurate to within plus or minus 3 percent, Weimer noted. “It
demonstrates that people care about the future of Downtown Chesterton
because they took the time to complete the survey.”
include the following:
¥71 percent of
respondents were Chesterton residents; 12 percent, Porter; 2 percent, Burns
Harbor; and 15 percent from outside of Duneland.
¥4 percent were
Generation Z (21 and under); 32 percent, Millennials (22 to 37); 38 percent,
Generation X (38 to 53); 24 percent, Baby Boomers (54 to 72); and 3 percent,
the Silent Generation (73 and older). “Downtown Chesterton is for all ages
to enjoy, and I wish we had more surveys completed from the Gen Zs and the
Silent Generation, so we had a better gauge of what they wanted in the
Downtown,” Weimer said.
¥What do you
usually do in Downtown Chesterton? 74 percent, dining; 72 percent, the
European Market; 34 percent, bar or wine tasting room; 34 percent, shopping;
and 26 percent, other activities including bank, library, barber/hair salon,
park, work, or ice cream.
¥How long do you
typically stay in Downtown Chesterton? 64 percent, one hour or less; 29
percent, two hours; and 7 percent, three hours or longer.
the respondents want to see the businesses in Downtown Chesterton modify
their hours and stay open later: 78 percent, business hours between 10 a.m.
to 7-8 p.m. Only 8 percent wanted the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Multiple
people indicated they don’t frequent Downtown businesses because they are
closed when they get home from work.
percentÑsupport the Town of Chesterton’s establishing a quiet/safe train
zone. “Creating a quiet train zone is a hot topic in Chesterton,” Weimer
said. “Respondents to the survey did not know in advance that we were going
to ask a question about the quiet train zone. Multiple people wrote in the
open-ended question sections that Chesterton needs to quiet the trains. Many
were very passionate about this. People commented that it's futile to put
energy into creating Downtown activities and events because the constant
train horns ruin the atmosphere."
The survey included
three open-ended questions, and each question had over 1,000 responses. A
sampling of responses:
¥What changes do
you want to see in Downtown Chesterton? More dining. Better appearance
and infrastructure. Trains: eliminate train horns, build a train
over/underpass, build a viewing platform. Fill empty storefronts. Add more
public parking. Businesses open later. Replacement store for Kmart. More
options for kids and teenagers. Aggressive development, along the lines of
that being pursued in Valparaiso, Crown Point, Whiting, Michigan City, and
Portage. More walking and bike paths. More shopping opportunities. Better
nightlife. More entertainment. More greenspace. Grocery store options like
Aldi's, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods. More events in the park. More
¥What kinds of
activities would you like to see in the Downtown? Chess tournaments.
Interactive art activities. Various types of music. Live theater. Full
festivals: revivals of the Wizard of Oz and Diana of the Dunes, also a Harry
Potter fest. An interactive water feature.
ideas do you have for Downtown activities? Live music: local musicians,
street music, battles of the bands, Karaoke. Games: bocce ball,
shuffleboard, cornhole, board games, family games, trivia, and spike ball.
Winter market. Family nights. Ice sculpture contest. Small town fair. Comic
cons. Lawnmower race. Senior events. Flashlight hunts. Laser shows. Street
vendors. Movies/plays. Car cruises. Arts and crafts. Seminars: cooking,
gardening, and photo. Dances. Parades: golf cart, back to school, midnight,
and holiday parades. Green/environmental events. Indoor climbing wall and
“The CBLT has been
viewing multiple videos on developing successful downtowns from the
Destination Development Association,” said Chesterton Special Projects
Coordinator and CBLT members. “One of the most critical ingredients to a
thriving downtown is hosting activities and events 265 days a year. That's a
lot of days. There is not one entity within our community that can produce
that many activities and events. So to pull off 265 days of activities and
events a year, we need the town, the park department, community
organizations, service clubs, businesses, schools, and individuals to help
create and host activities and events in the Downtown.”
activities and events that drive people to the Downtown and once they are in
the Downtown they will shop, dine and experience the other businesses,”
Duneland Chamber of Commerce President Maura Durham said. “The Downtown is
the heart of Chesterton, and it's a critical part of the economic engine for
Chesterton Survey report can be accessed at visitchesterton.com
Copies are also
available at the Duneland Chamber of Commerce office, 220 Broadway in
Chesterton, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.