Porter director of
development Mike Barry announced the town has been awarded a $32,000 federal
grant for downtown sidewalk and streetscape improvements.
The required local
match Porter will pay under the Creating Livable Communities program is
On Monday the
Chesterton Town Council acknowledged receipt of a $24,000 CLC grant with a
$6,000 local match due; both grants were awarded through the Northwestern
Indiana Regional Planning Commission.
In an award letter
to Barry from NIRPC executive director Ty Warner, he encourged Porter’s
collaboration/cooperation with Chesterton on hike/bike trail connections as
well as Porter’s connectivity to the South Shore’s Dune Park train station
north of town.
Barry told the
Porter Town Council on Tuesday that the $32,000 is for project design and
another grant to help fund construction will be sought. Tentative plans are
for sidewalk upgrades and additional downtown ADA-compliant intersection
approaches. “It’s hard to walk around here,” he observed.
Greg Stinson thanked Barry for his efforts to obtain the grant, adding
Porter has an updated downtown master plan to implement.
In other business,
the council voted 4-0 with member Rob Pomeroy absent to accept a negotiated
payment plan for Augsburg Lutheran Church’s back-billed sanitary sewer
charges. Augsburg’s original bill was reduced to $1,229 now payable in four
installments this year.
Porter sewer bills
are based on water consumption. Last year Porter’s utility determined some
residential and commercial sewer accounts had been billed based on incorrect
water-meter sizes. Adjustments were made resulting in several previously
underbilled customers being charged for outstanding balances.
paid, some took negotiated payment plans and for certain residential
customers town ordinance was amended. In addition to its payment plan,
Augsburg took steps to have its larger meter reduced to 1-inch to be billed
at a lower rate, which the council approved.
Jeannine Virtue and David Wodrich posed questions about fairness to
customers. President Greg Stinson said the town stands ready to work with
them, and member Elka Nelson said such matters are handled on a case-by-case
basis because setting a blanket rule is neither feasible nor reasonable.
Stinson said the
back billings represent money the customers should have been paying all
along and the town is legally within its rights to go after it.
Also Tuesday, by
consensus the council approved having town attorney Gregg Sobkowski prepare
revised guidelines for hiring security officers for events at Park
Department grounds and buildings, especially when alcohol is served.
liaison, said current policy mandates a security officer be hired under
certain circumstances, but it needs to be made clear what happens if those
rules are violated. She also suggested giving park director Brian Bugajski
and/or town police chief James Spanier authority to waive the need for
security if advisable.
unanimously transferred $200,000 from the CEDIT fund to the general fund;
the money is not a temporary loan. Last year a financial consultant
recommended Porter balance its budget and build up the general fund to
achieve year-end balances, which had been steadily decreasing.
department heads that future CEDIT disbursements for other uses will be
carefully considered to protect that fund, which also pays for debt service.
In other matters:
* Nelson said
she’s elated at the news that Paul Labovitz has been named superintendent of
the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore replacing Constantine Dillon, who
retired last year. “I look forward to a new beginning,” she said, as well as
a smoother, closer, easier relationship with the town. “(Labovitz) has my
vote of confidence.”
Clerk-treasurer Carol Pomeroy said the monthly fee on town sewer bills that
pays for trash/recycling collection will increase $0.35 a month or $0.70 per
bill based on rates adopted last year to fund a multi-year refuse contract.
Jennifer Klug suggested the town look into requiring carbon monoxide
detectors. “It’s a very elementary way to save lives.” Stinson said it will
be discussed but he and others questioned how the requirement, if adopted,
would be enforced.
* John Kallen,
a member of the State Park Little League board of directors, presented a
donation check for $200 and requested use of the Hawthorne Park ballfield
again this season. He said SPLL registration at more than 500 children is
the best one ever. By unanimous vote the council approved the use but it’s
subject to Sobkowski reviewing the proposed contract with the town.
Debbie Bowen said it’s impossible to walk on Porter sidewalks because they
are not shoveled. She was told that’s for the private property owner to do,
not the town.
Works superintendent Brenda Brueckheimer said her workers plan to remove
large snowmounds that block sidewalks at intersections. She also urged
residents to shovel out their trash containers, especially in alleys, so
garbage trucks can reach and empty them.
* Spanier was
authorized to seek proposals for the purchase of new police vehicles this
year, possibly 4-wheel drive models.
reported the Fire Department is having a difficult time with the mandatory
state fire-reporting system’s computer program. Porter is looking at new
software after losing data and struggling to provide it.
announced the popular Porter Easter egg hunt will be April 12 at 1 p.m. at
Hawthorne with a record number of eggs; volunteers are being sought. The
council approved allowing Porter United Methodist Church to host a sunrise
Easter service at Hawthorne. The rental fee was waived.