Lakeshore Chamber Endorses Extension of RDA State Funding

Joining other regional organizations such as the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, the Northwest Indiana Forum and the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce has issued a position paper supporting extension of the Regional Development Authority’s state funding beyond 2015.

Currently, the state’s $10 million annual contribution to the RDA is scheduled to end in 2015, though local contributions from Lake and Porter counties, and the cities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago would continue. The RDA is asking the General Assembly to extend state funding during the current session.

Read the Lakeshore Chamber’s position paper here (.pdf). The RDA is grateful for their support.

Grant Fuels Local Hiring, Green Initiative at Marquette Park

The Marquette Park Lagoon.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) has received a $351,743 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for stormwater management around the Marquette Park lagoon.

The lagoon is currently the site of a $1 million EPA dredging project that is removing decades of accumulated sediment. The RDA is partnering with the City of Gary and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) to create a conservation corps to implement green stormwater best management practices in the Marquette Park Lagoon watershed.

“Many of the projects made possible by this grant are green infrastructure projects that will be constructed by conservation corps workers,” said Susan Hedman, EPA Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager. “Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding will be used to put people to work improving storm water management in Gary – near Marquette Park.”
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Porter, Portage Eye Lakefront Development

Portage officials got a look yesterday at preliminary plans for further development of the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk, the first successful RDA-funded lakeshore project.

Greg Calpino of SEH of Munster provided a report on two north side enhancement projects involving the park and some 40 acres to the south.

Project 1, said Calpino, looks at necessary repairs and maintenance at Portage Lakefront. It identified 16 potential projects, ranging from improving the entry drive to trail extensions and landscaping. It also looked at the operations and maintenance agreement between the city and National Park Service, which owns the land.

Calpino said it will take up to five years to address the projects. The next step will be approving a priority list, emphasizing visitor safety and comfort, outlining which projects should be completed first.

Project 2, he said, is a longer-range project, itself divided into five phases, that would add parking, trail links, pavilion space and camping to property now owned either by the Redevelopment Commission or Portage Parks Foundation south of the Precoat Metals building to U.S. 12. The area includes a U.S. Steel maintenance building and training facility. The area is not within the NPS boundaries.

The first phase, which could cost $1 million, would include additional parking and trails north to the lakefront site and south to the South Shore access. A second phase would involve improving access to the park’s entry, including landscaping, signs and markers to more closely identify the park site.

Also, in the nearby town of Porter, the $19 million Gateway to the Dunes project, another RDA initiative, is moving ahead on two fronts.

The Town of Porter advanced two projects Tuesday tied to the Gateway to the Indiana Dunes development plan.

Meeting separately, the Town Council and the Redevelopment Commission accepted an interlocal agreement with involved agencies for Porter to maintain the new Dunes Kankakee Trail spur from the Indiana Dunes State Park to the Porter County Visitor Center.

The Porter boards also approved an agreement with the Indiana Department of Transportation to replace the traffic signals at U.S. 20 and Tremont Road including decorative poles at the intersection.