Is it wise to change consultants in the middle of a $30 million project, or
should a board open a $1.6 million contract up to competitive proposals?
The Porter Redevelopment Commission, faced with that question Tuesday, voted
4-1 to retain SEH to provide various services tied to the recent
disbursement of $3.9 million for Porter’s Gateway to the Indiana Dunes.
SEH served as Porter consultant to plan the Gateway, pitched it to the
Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and secured the first $1.8
million of an eventual $19 million RDA grant.
The $3.9 million will be used for construction of the first $1.5 million leg
of the Dunes Kankakee hike/bike trail along Indiana 49 from U.S. 12 to U.S.
20, and for engineering through construction for two trailheads linking the
DK trail and the Calumet Trail with an additional trail link to the Dune
Park South Shore train station.
Other year-two RDA projects with Porter as lead agency are engineering and
design for infrastructure changes in the main Gateway area near the Dorothy
Buell Memorial tourism visitor center; land acquisition for the DK trail
along Dunes Creek (Munson Ditch); more engineering/design for the DK trail
near the creek and Waverly Road bridge; and engineering/design for the
reconstruction of Indiana 49 from Oak Hill Road to U.S. 20 from four lanes
to two as a tourism parkway with planted median and a roundabout.
A.J. Monroe of SEH said the Gateway’s new commitment to the Calumet Trail is
the local match needed to leverage $1.6 million earmarked for Porter County
to rebuild the western 3 miles of the Calumet Trail, which hasn’t held up
due to very wet conditions, from Mineral Springs Road to Dune Park station.
Not all to SEH
SEH principal Matt Reardon said some of the $1,670,200 his firm would be
paid under the new contract goes to subcontractors for professional
engineering, architectural, environmental and other services needed to
advance the Gateway.
Prior to the vote retaining SEH, Redevelopment Commission member Al Raffin
said, “I’m not saying I’m unhappy with any of their work. I’d say inteview
(other consultants).” Town attorney Patrick Lyp said while the commission
could do that, state law doesn’t require it for attorneys, engineers,
planners and similar advisors.
Commission members Trevin Fowler and Michele Bollinger said SEH has done a
very good job and it would not benefit the Gateway to change firms in
LeAnn McCrum’s successful motion to retain SEH included an amendment from
Bruce Snyder that Porter director of engineeering Matt Keiser, Porter deputy
clerk-treasurer Karen Spanier and Bollinger as Redevelopment Commission
president provide additonal oversight on the RDA project.
In related Gateway matters, the commission unanimously approved an agreement
with the RDA so the $3.9 million can be released, and Reardon said Porter
should know in September whether a federal grant request for $7 million for
Indiana 49 modifications is approved.
Keiser reported that construction on new Indiana 49 bridges over U.S. 20 and
U.S. 12 has been halted by the Local 150 Operating Engineers labor strike.
Resurfacing the U.S. 20 cloverleaf and additional work on that road under
Indiana 49 needs to be done.
Also Tuesday, the commission unanimously accepted a proposal from
environmental consultant Weaver Boos to expand its previous study as to the
extent of contamination on 31 acres known as the Brickyard the commission
purchased in late 2009 for $350,000.
Housing, a senior-living center, a new fire station and neighborhood retail
are planned south of Beam Street west of Sexton Avenue as an extension of
Weaver Boos will be paid not to exceed $23,582 for study interviews,
planning, coordination and layout; fieldwork; analytical work; production of
a site assessment report; and an opinion of the probable remediation cost.
Keiser said the work should be done and a report in hand in about 60 days.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management asked for more studies
after learning that limited contamination intially was found at the site,
once operated as a brickyard with a furnace.
Fowler called the additional Weaver Boos work a logical next step in
preparing the site for redevelopment.