Chesterton Council gives go ahead for police station bonds

Chesterton Town Hall

Chesterton Town Hall

The Chesterton Town Council approved the issuance and appropriation of $2.5 million in General Obligation Bonds to help finance construction of a new police station.

Council in a 3-0 vote Monday – Council members Jennifer Fisher and Lloyd Kittredge weren’t in attendance – approved the financing after no one objected to the financial plan during the public hearing.

The town earlier awarded a $5,594,000 contract to Larson- Danielson Construction of LaPorte to build a two-story, 10,800 square foot police station on a town parking lot across from the present station at 8th Street and Broadway.

Council has also tentatively committed $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds towards the police station project. The town also plans to apply for additional funding from the state’s Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grant program.

In other business, the council awarded a contract for the S. 5th Street sidewalk project to Milestone Contractors North for $128,213.60.

Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann said that the bid of Egolf Coates Excavation at $93,862, couldn’t be accepted because that contractor failed to provide a required financial statement.

The Council also approved a recommendation from Town Manager David Cincoski to spend $10,000 the town received from the federal court opioid drug settlement to assist Three20 Recovery Program in hiring a program director.

Earlier this month the council approved $72,304 from the federal opioid suit settlement to buy equipment for police and fire departments.

The town received $117,000 last year and is scheduled to receive between $14,000 to $23,000 through the year 2038. Most of the money’s use is restricted to dealing with opioid related issues.

Laura Verheage, owner of the Red Cup Cafe & Deli, told the Town Council that the town’s policy of closing Broadway between 2nd Street and 3rd Street for the Saturday European Market is hurting her along with neighboring businesses.

Verheage said the European Market has added more food vendors and those visiting tend to stay within the market’s confines.

“I don’t know how we are going to survive if we don’t get the foot traffic,” Verheage said.

Vergheage said that safety was cited as reason for closing a portion of the street, but she doesn’t recall any serious incidents.

“It has made the parking situation incredibly worse,” Verheage said. She noted that she had to post a sign in front of her business on Saturday, saying that vendors couldn’t use the parking space in front of The Red Cup.

Councilman James Ton (District 1) said this might be a situation where the town thought it was making progress on a situation and finds there are unintended consequences.

Ton asked if Verheage had taken up the situation with the Duneland Chamber of Commerce. She said that the chamber hasn’t listened to her.

“Please take this under consideration to change it back,” Verheage said.

Jennifer Klug, who regularly attends Porter meetings, asked the Chesterton Town Council if they were still considering implementing Quiet Zones for the railroad crossings in the Downtown area. A Quiet Zone would involve improving railroad crossings and lengthening gates so that trains would not be required to blow their horns before approaching each crossing in the Downtown.

Ton said due to other pressing priorities – such as the new police station – the project has been put aside for now.

Klug said she believes the Town of Chesterton should reconsider in light of the May 9 accident at the N. 15th Street crossing that killed 14-year-old Sylis Wilfinger. She said that it’s important that people hear the sound of oncoming trains on the tracks.

At the start of the meeting, Ton had asked for and the council did have a moment of silence in memory of Wilfinger.

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