The Porter Redevelopment Commission is on a mission to find $150,000 and
Tuesday members may have found how to get it.
President Michele Bollinger said the National Park Service has committed
demolition expenses plus $150,000 toward a new picnic pavilion and improved
lakefront access at Porter Beach.
The town can partner with a like amount to develop the NPS-designed
facilities as planned. The improvements would be on both federal and Town of
The Redevelopment Commission gets its funding from certain property taxes
collected in designated districts and since Porter Beach is not one of them,
commission money typically can’t be spent there.
The commission concurred with Bollinger’s suggestion to submit a formal
grant application through the Lake Michigan Coastal Program for
approximately $70,000; a pre-application showed most of the beach project is
eligible for funding but not a concession stand NPS said would have to be
operated by the town if it wishes to do so.
The town would have to provide $70,000 to match the grant. Members Trevin
Fowler and Al Raffin supported having Porter consultant SEH ask the
Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority to reprogram at least
$70,000 of the $19 million it previously awarded the commission for its
Gateway to the Indiana Dunes project.
Fowler said the beach pavilion shares the Gateway’s goals of improved
recreational facilities that can be used by Porter residents as well as
tourists. Bollinger said preliminary cost estimates will be sought to get a
better idea how much the town would be required to pay toward the pavilion
project, which is still in the design phase.
Town director of engineering Matt Keiser showed a video presentation
recently given by NPS representatives to Porter officials.
He said two vacant NPS leaseback houses north of the town’s Porter Beach
parking lot will be torn down by the park service next week and their septic
fields removed. In their place tentatively planned are both a family picnic
area and a reservable group picnic area; a handicapped-accessible ramp from
the pavilion to the beach; retaining walls, angled parking and circular end
turn-arounds at the town lot; and wider sidewalks along Wabash Avenue.
Porter Public Works superintendent Brenda Brueckheimer said the retaining
walls will cut down on parking-lot maintenance from blowing sand, and the
ramp is vital so everyone can get to the water’s edge to enjoy the sunsets.
In other business, Keiser reported the Brickyard Trail pedestrian bridge
spanning four-lane U.S. 20 will be delivered the first week in December and
set soon after taking about seven days to complete. The highway will remain
open but close periodically in 20-minute increments.
The bridge over U.S. 12 is slated for erection in the spring. Deadline for
trail completion is May 14, 2012. The town received a $2 million
transportation-enhancement grant for the trail; the commission funded an
additional $900,000 as well as paid the preliminary engineering over nearly
a decade and right-of-way acquisition.
A glitch in the project is not being able to find confirmation that Howe
Road is a platted town street. Legal research is ongoing as additional
parcels may need to be acquired near and for Howe Road to link the U.S. 20
bridge with the eastern portion of the Brickyard Trail into downtown Porter.
Separate title research and land acquisition is ongoing for the Orchard
Pedestrian Way trail slated for 2012 groundbreaking along Waverly Road.
A portion will cut through Hawthorne Park, which the Porter Park Board owns,
but research shows Ackerman Drive through the park is not a recorded town
street which brings up the question of who should own, maintain, repair and
“Everything’s on the table at this point,” said Keiser. Federal guidelines
require the town to plat the easement where the trail will go. A meeting
will be scheduled with the Park Board and its attorney.
On another matter, Keiser said an environmental assessment report for Munson
Ditch is available at the town hall for inspection; no recognized concerns