The Town of Porter Redevelopment Commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 25
to review a draft $240,000 sub-area plan that will guide $30 million in
future Indiana 49 corridor development between the Indiana Dunes State Park
and Interstate 94.
The first phase of the Gateway to the Indiana Dunes project tentatively
calls for construction of a hotel and family-entertainment complex having
both an indoor and outdoor waterpark on 21 acres followed by
pedestrian-friendly shopping and restaurants as well as family vacation
villas and a retreat center with detached cottages. Implementation could
take up to 15 years.
The targeted private-sector Gateway investment, according to the sub-area
plan done by consultant SEH, is about $115 million over the next 20 years.
The commission approved a 2011 contract with SEH at Friday’s special
The Gateway study area extends to Waverly Road on the west, Tremont Road on
the east and into downtown Porter and other infill areas for complementary
development that will serve both full-time residents and lure day-tripper
tourists to extend their stays benefiting the region as well as surrounding
The sub-area plan and other work was funded with $1.8 million awarded Porter
in November, 2009 by the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.
The corridor project is being coordinated with the Indiana Department of
Transportation. INDOT is a major player as the reconstructed Indiana 49
would become the Dunes Kankakee Parkway with a roundabout at Munson Road to
serve the Porter County Visitor Center.
INDOT currently is working on Indiana 49 bridges over U.S. 20, U.S. 12 and
the South Shore tracks. Porter’s using $200,000 in RDA money to add stylized
lettering, lighting and design elements to the bridges.
Porter is lead agency for the Gateway and officials initially thought they
had to go back to the RDA asking for $17.6 million in additional funds, but
Friday town director of engineering Matt Keiser said Porter’s now learned
the entire $19.4 million was awarded in 2009.
This week town representatives will be in Indianapolis asking the RDA to
release a second-year disbursement including about $5 million for
construction of Porter’s 3.95-mile leg of the new Dunes Kankakee hike/bike
trail south from U.S. 12 along Indiana 49.
A $900,00 trail engineering/design study has been ongoing this year.
On a parallel course with the Gateway, the Porter Redevelopment Commission
is having SEH draft preliminary plans for The Brickyard, 30 acres the
commission purchased for $350,000 in hopes of extending Porter’s downtown
west along Beam Street with future municipal uses, neighborhood shops and
single-family/townhome living units, all anchored around a senior housing
2009/2010 commission president Bruce Snyder opened the meeting with a
statement praising the great things the town has been experiencing, and he
took his name out of contention for 2011 president due to health reasons and
time constraints although he will remain on the commission.
Member Michele Bollinger unanimously was elected president and Al Raffin as
vice-president in his absence. Vote was 4-0. Deputy town clerk-treasurer
Karen Spanier was retained as secretary.
According to Snyder, “We have taken great strides these past few years to
move our Town forward and at the same time preserving it as a special place
to live and work. Town of Porter citizens can be proud of their town
officials and their vision and leadership.”
Snyder cited three awards the town has received, and that local banks are
investing in Porter.
"The most exciting part is that we are just beginning to see the vision and
possibilities in store for us as we help lead not only Porter County but the
region as well, “ he added. “Personally, I have been told over and over
again by people from all sides how exciting it is to see these wonderful
things taking place.”
Continued Snyder, “Having said that, I am the first to realize that my
leadership style this past year has at times been very abrasive....I realize
that at times I have not been publicly responsive to public inquiries and
have not treated some residents properly. For this I am very sorry. There is
no excuse for my behavior. It is not becoming of a public official, nor is
it the actions of a Christian.”
grants this year
Keiser said the Duneland Economic Development Corp. plans to offer a total
$30,000 this year for facade grants for local businesses. Last year $20,000
was available and three Porter businesses were among those getting grants
for building facelifts.
The Porter Town Council and Redevelopment Commission jointly financed $5,000
in matching funds to help their businesses score more points on last year’s
2011 DEDC applications are due Feb. 23 with a Jan. 21 workshop planned to
answer business owners’ questions. Bollinger said having Porter offer local
matches was an outstanding success and on Snyder’s motion the commission
agreed to do the same again.
Commission member Trevin Fowler, who also serves as Town Council president,
said he wants to improve communication between the boards so Bollinger, also
a council member, offered to give reports on commission projects.