Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore superintendent Costa Dillon wants to
develop a new picnic area at Porter Beach, and the Porter Town Council
pledged its cooperation Tuesday.
Dillon said he envisions the space, reclaimed after two expired leaseback
homes adjacent to a parking lot are removed, as a beachside picnic area for
individual or group use; because utilities are in place for the homes,
commercial vendor sales at the 1/4-acre picnic site are feasible.
After learning the plans won’t result in an overall loss of spaces in the
town’s beach parking lot, council vice-president Michele Bollinger called
the INDU project a great opportunity for Porter Beach.
Dillon said he’s seeking design services to have the picnic-area roof
reflect the undulating flow of the dunes. He sees the finished structure as
“Porter’s picture spot --- so attractive you’d want to put it on the town
brochures and website.”
He noted, “Working with the town offers some opportunities neither of us
could do alone.” Bollinger said Porter has $15,000 in marina grant money it
could use for the project.
Dillon said some engineering changes may need to take place at the town
parking lot to ensure accessibility for the new picnic area, but the town
has control over what happens there, he assured.
The superintendent said the two beach homes to be torn down, especially
challenging because of asbestos, are among other vacant INDU structures
being removed including a house in the Dunes Forest area. Porter Public
Works superintendent Brenda Brueckheimer said at the latter site the
National Park Service will replace a collapsed culvert and regrade the ditch
once the home is removed.
Anticipating a crowd at local beaches for the coming July 4 weekend when a
heat wave also is predicted, Porter Police chief James Spanier announced
Porter Beach residents are being asked to pick up flyers at the town hall or
police station that they or their guests can display in the driver’s-side
dashboard of their vehicles.
The flyers will permit residents/guests to move past police checkpoints
without unneeded instructions and help speed traffic entering Porter Beach
to avoid back-ups that result from questions about parking availability.
Spanier said a number of agencies are cooperating to help avoid traffic
congestion related to the July 1 community fireworks at Indiana Dunes State
Park where thousands of onlookers ventured last year. His recommendation?
Get there early or steer clear of the area if not attending the fireworks.
The chief noted that having a valid Porter Beach parking sticker doesn’t
guarantee anyone one of the few parking spots there.
Shuttle buses to Porter Beach will load at Chesterton Middle School in
advance of fireworks at the adjacent state park. Bollinger said the
Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce is spearheading the shuttle service
by renting Duneland School Corp. buses and drivers. There is no charge for
Voting 3-0 with members Trevin Fowler and Todd Martin absent, the council
OK’d purchase of $1,500 in software to enable residents to pay their sewer
bills using credit/debit cards or electronic checks online through the town
website; a convenience fee will be charged.
A second $1,500 was approved for software to pay sewer bills at the town
hall using a speedier process, upgraded posting and special cash drawer
operated by the system. Not purchased at this time was an approximately
$2,000 kiosk and connectivity allowing sewer users to pay by credit/debit
card at the town hall.
In other business Tuesday:
•It was announced Gregory Sobkowski, former Portage city attorney, of Hodges
& Davis in Merrillville will be the new Porter town attorney. A contract was
not ready for consideration so town attorney Patrick Lyp, who resigned, will
serve until the July 12 meeting. Bollinger said Sobkowski will be the
primary attorney and another lawyer from the firm likely will advise
Porter’s two zoning boards.
•A representative of Porter Beach resident Ray Cahnman was told to work with
Lyp and building commissioner Art Elwood on additional landscaping for
Cahnman’s property; Lyp said there is a pending lawsuit over trees and a
•Director of engineering Matt Keiser advised that the town’s Stormwater
Management Board plans to send out mailers seeking input for an updated
drainage master plan. Fifteen of the 19 problem areas listed in 2008 have
been addressed, Keiser noted.
•Porter businesses may purchase for $50 each wooden Adirondack chairs to
paint and decorate for display as part of the town’s branding effort.
•Porter Park Board president Rondi Wightman said plans are finalized and
ready for the July 4 Patriotism in the Park family funfest at Hawthorne
Park. Also, space still is available for the park’s middle-school children’s
cooking class July 11-14.
•Those present Tuesday applauded the efforts of Boy Scout Troop 998 members
who recently installed 33 bike racks throughout town. The project was
organized and supervised by scout Tony Davern. Keiser and Brueckheimer said
what the 20 volunteers did was very impressive.