(Editor’s note: as part of our RDA Transformations video project, the Regional Development Authority asked area communities what RDA had meant to them. This one of a series of community narratives that were provided to us. Earlier Snapshots can be found here.)
In November of 2009, the RDA and the Town of Porter entered into an agreement for a project what would provide the “Gateway” to the Dunes. As indicated in the planning documents over 128 acres adjacent to the Dunes is being prepared for and marketed as the Gateway to the Dunes.
The total amount of the initial grant award was $1,816,500. Those funds were used to identify and design the “Gateway”, identify and design the first leg of the “Dunes Kankakee Trail” and leverage several million dollars from both Federal and State agencies.
The first construction projects completed by the Town are the bridges that are located on US 20, US 12 and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District. The total amount of RDA funding ($699,447) was matched by $7,028,200 in Federal and State transportation funding. The completed bridge redesign has allowed for a vital link of the DK Trail connecting the Visitors Center to the State Park. Another partner in the DK Trail project link from US20 to the Park is the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. $190,000 in funding will be used construct the trail link from the State Park south to US 20. As the DK Trail continues to the South, other matching construction funds included Porter County DK link totaling $471,608.
Other partnerships that have been created as a result of the RDA project include leveraging several grants from the Lake Michigan Coastal Program. The total amount of Coastal grants the community has been awarded is $67,000.
The RDA and the Town of Porter continued the efforts to develop the Gateway to the Dunes by entering into phase II of the project providing design and construction funding for not only the DK Trail but critical infrastructure to enhance the “Gateway” (3,915,000). Through this process, three key actions have been identified. The first is to continue to promote investment in business and tourism in the “Gateway” and along US 20, two is to create links to Downtown Porter and the third is to promote new investment that will benefit the residents and the visitors to the Town of Porter.
Recent examples of this course of action include an expansion of the Tax Increment Financing District to allow for public private partnership on the targeted parcels in and adjacent to the Gateway and a recent sale of the previously shuttered waterpark. The Town and the administration have focused on this previously closed asset as a catalyst to development in the area. Based on these efforts the following leverage has occurred; $7.7MM in public funding and $3MM in private funding has been investment in the Gateway. As always effort continue to identify investors for additional commercial, retail and recreational development and the Town stands ready it assist the private sector on transactions that create jobs and embrace the vision of the Gateway to the Dunes.