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Bridge Offers A Safer Path

By Jane Huh
Post-Tribune
April 8, 2008

A pedestrian bridge in Porter is expected to be built by the end of November.

The town is accepting sealed bids for a bridge supplier until April 29.

The progress comes after two years of meeting strict requirements from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and other from state and federal agencies, "

"(There's a) whole litany of permits," said Engineer Tim Haas, of Haas and Associates in Michigan City. "That's why it's taken so long."

The selected bidder would furnish all labor, equipment and materials to create Orchard Pedestrian Bridge, a 225-foot long and 10-foot wide pedestrian bridge that goes over the Little Calumet River on the west side of Waverly Road in Porter.

The bridge is part of the Orchard Pedestrian Way, which extends north on Waverly Road to U.S. 20.

Haas said he expects the work crew to wrap up construction by November.

The $1.2 million project is funded 80 percent through state grants.

Sedrick Green, project manager, said the bridge is only a "small part of a whole project."

The whole project will connect with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Town council president Bill Sexton said the bridge will be "much more beneficial for the town" as it would address safety and environmental issues.

"It makes for a much safer trip for (pedestrians) and it offers an alternative method of travel," he said.


First Grading Period
Mayor Oberlie Set Aggressive Goals

Editorial

Mayor Chuck Oberlie set an ambitious agenda in his State of the City address in January. He promised progress on several items on his list by the end of the first quarter of 2008.

For his effort in setting such an aggressive agenda, Oberlie deserves an A, but on the implementation side, the grade is an incomplete.

"We always like to set aggressive goals. We've planned many of them and we're moving ahead on some. Others are somewhat frustrating," said Oberlie.

The key items on the mayor's to-do list centered around redevelopment. Among them were converting Franklin Street north of Ninth Street to two-way traffic, design of a splash pad at Washington Park and an improved rock garden at Washington Park.

Progress has been made in each area, but particularly on changing traffic patterns on Franklin Street.

Plans for the two projects in Washington Park are moving ahead. Parks Superintendent Darrell Garbacik has met with engineers for both the splash pad and rock garden.

A design plan for the Trail Creek corridor put forth by the design firm Lohan Anderson has been accepted by the City Council, something Oberlie didn't expect to have completed until the second quarter.

Lagging behind is the city's effort to take over Michigan Boulevard. The city and the state are still discussing details and until the state does the infrastructure improvements that need to be done on the highway, it's best that the city leave control of Michigan Boulevard in the state's hands.

Oberlie said he is serious about moving Michigan City forward, and there is no reason to doubt his sincerity.

Development of the city's North End and Trail Creek corridor is a massive undertaking, but it is moving forward. A solid foundation has been put in place by the mayor and it's encouraging to hear that he's not satisfied with the progress thus far. There is great anticipation in the city on what could happen. Residents have heard for too many years about the potential of Michigan City.

The reason they haven't gotten excited about what's taken place this year is that they've heard it before, but so far, action has been overshadowed by rhetoric.


Oberlie Pleased With Benchmarks
Mayor contends redevelopment goals are about on track with what he hoped in his January 'State of the City' address.

By Jason Miller
The News-Dispatch
March 31, 2008

MICHIGAN CITY - Chuck Oberlie's long-term plan for redevelopment, announced in his January State of the City, began with benchmarks he hoped to reach by the end of the first quarter. The first quarter ends today, and while he hasn't met each of his goals, the mayor said he's pleased the path to redevelopment is moving along.

"We always like to set aggressive goals," he said. "We've planned many of them and we're moving ahead on some. Others are somewhat frustrating."

In his address, Oberlie said he hoped the end of the first quarter would bring serious efforts at redevelopment. Those goals including movement on changing Franklin Street from one-way to two-way traffic and the design of a splash pad and an improved rock garden at Washington Park.

The city has hit its marks on the Franklin Street project, having hired Haas & Associates to devise a reconstruction plan to deal with the realignment of parking, as well.

A second quarter mark has also been reached - early - in the acceptance by the city of a Trail Creek land re-use plan designed by the Chicago firm Lohan Anderson.

The plan will likely serve as a guideline for the overall redevelopment of the Trail Creek corridor.

The city has also begun work on the two Washington Park projects, but the plans aren't as far along as city officials had hoped. Parks Superintendent Darrell Garbacik said he's met with engineers for both projects.

"Preliminary engineering is underway (for the rock garden), but it's not funded yet," he said. "And we've retained G.M. Fedorchack to lead us through the process (of designing a splash pad.) Honestly, I'd like to be further ahead on this stuff, but I'm happy with where we're at."

One project Oberlie had hoped to be farther along on is the restructuring of Michigan Boulevard. As part of its redevelopment plans, the city wants to take over control of the boulevard from the state.

He wants to tear out the concrete median and replace it with a pedestrian-friendly and aesthetically pleasing "true" boulevard. The city and state, however, haven't been able to reach an agreement on a transfer.

"Key factors in some of these things are beyond what local control can dictate, like the boulevard," he said. "We've got some irons in the fire, but we haven't been able to get it done."

Despite setbacks and shuffling feet, Oberlie said he wants Michigan City residents to know that the plans he set out for the city aren't being neglected.

He said plans of this magnitude often take time, but setting a timeline should give the taxpaying public a good idea of what city officials have planned.

"I want the citizens to have a comfort zone. Everybody is serious about these plans," he said. "It's not supposed to be easy. We don't want to waste too much time. We need to make decisions and, if there are delays, explain to the people why there are delays."


Franklin Street Now Beyond 'Study'
Officials say plan to change traffic pattern to two-way now at the designing stage

By Jason Miller
The News-Dispatch
March 2, 2008

MICHIGAN CITY - Don't call it a study.

It's anything but, and city officials want to make that point clear. There have been so many studies done of the North End that officials like Mayor Chuck Oberlie are starting to think residents see "study" as a dirty word.

The city knows it's going to change traffic patterns on Franklin Street from onewayto two-way. So the project architect Tim Haas signed on for is aimed not at studying the plan's feasibility, but at designing it.

"We're doing the preliminary engineering on the project. It's been studied," Haas said.

Haas' firm - Haas & Associates - was hired last week to design the "new" Franklin Street. Oberlie said Haas was hired because the company does good work and has a historic relationship with the city.

The fact the firm's offices are located in the heart of the Franklin Street area where the traffic change is planned is a plus. It's a plus that excites Haas, who helped his father move the family business to 705 Franklin St. in 1978.

"I was still in high school when I helped move into that building," Haas said. "It was a lot different in 1978," when the street was closed to traffic and open only as a pedestrian mall. "I'm excited to help restore a bit of history."

Haas moved to 526 Franklin St. four years ago.

Haas was hired not only to design a two-way street on Franklin - complete with parking changes and curb changes - but to design a similar change on Ninth from Pine to Washington.

Oberlie said the Ninth Street option is not set in stone, but is a project that would make sense in pairing with the change on Franklin, between Ninth and Fourth streets.

"The Franklin Street project is a stand-alone," Oberlie said. "It would be done in phases, because we might look at going farther (west) than Washington."

Haas said the process for Franklin will begin soon, with his firm looking over preliminary designs drawn up by Michigan City Engineer Bill Phelps. That provides a layout of the downtown area and how changing traffic patterns will affect things like parking.

The firm will also look into the costs of the project "in more detail."

"I get to be part of a pretty significant project in my hometown," Haas said.


New Water System on Tap for Long Beach

By Amanda Haverstick
The News-Dispatch
November 14, 2005

LONG BEACH - A new water system in the works for Long Beach will hopefully bring an end to funky-looking water and low water pressure.

"We've been experiencing problems with discolored water," Long Beach Town Councilman Robert Schaefer said.

The Long Beach Water Board on Monday night approved a resolution for the construction and installation of improvements to the water works system and for the issuance of Water Works Revenue Bonds of the Town of Long Beach.

The resolution then went before the Long Beach Town Council for its first reading.

According to the State Revolving Loan Fund, the project includes replacing 38,760 feet of existing water mains that are four inches in diameter and smaller with 14,790 feet of new eight-inch water mains and 20,770 feet of new six-inch water mains.

Ten new fire hydrants will be added to the system. The project will add 3,430 feet of new six-inch water mains in four locations and relocate the Michigan City water supply connection from Fairway Drive to Shorewood Drive -eliminating 11 dead-end water mains.

"The project enfolds (about) 40 percent of the existing system," Schaefer said.

The estimated cost for the project is $4.7 million dollars. The project will be financed with a 20-year term loan from the SRF. Haas and Associates of Michigan City will design the project.

Included in the cost estimate are the resurfacing of roads and fuel costs.

Doing nothing about the water situation, according to the SRF, would result in continued water quality problems and inadequate fire hydrant flow capacity in many areas.

The small steel water mains, installed 76 years ago, would become restricted due to internal encrustation and may fail due to complete blockage, excessive leakage or rupture due to corrosion.

"It's an old system," Schaefer said. "It's been in place a long time."

There are 19 dead-end water mains on the Long Beach water system. Of those, only three have a fire hydrant. None of the dead-end water mains serves a high water usage area, so the remaining dead-end water mains are subject to high water detention times, stagnation and poor water quality.

The Town of Long Beach has received complaints of dirty water from residents since the end of summer 2003.

"It kind of peeked over the last year," Schaefer said.

The town, which has close to 1,100 meters, began purchasing its water from the Michigan City Department of Water Works at three locations after its own system failed. The changeover had a hand in some of the town's pressure and water quality problems.

Prior to the complaints of discolored water, the Moore Road booster station was activated and all fire hydrants on the water system were flushed. This dislodged considerable sediment in the existing water mains.

The state of the current system, Schaefer said, also is causing a decrease in water pressure in some homes. An improved system with increased pressure, he said, will benefit the fire department.

"We have a new fire truck with a (bigger) capacity for higher pressure," Schaefer said, adding that the water fixes also will help safety factors in the town.


Work on Tower Nears Completion

Observation Tower - In The News

By Jason Miller
The News-Dispatch
October 6, 2005

Renovations may be complete by end of month. For the first time in nearly three years, patrons of the Washington Park Zoo will soon be able to look out on Lake Michigan from high atop a Depression-era observation tower closed since 2002 for repairs.

”I think it will be very close,“ engineer Tim Haas said of finishing the work by the scheduled completion date of Oct. 30. ”I know the contractor is entitled to some additional time because there was additional work. But I think it will be close.“

The tower, which was built as a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s, was closed to the public in 2002 so contractors could make it safe again for public traffic.

The structure needed brick and limestone repair and replacement, new steel girders, tuck-pointing on the decades-old stone and mortar and structural repairs on concrete at the tower's base.

In addition, contractors installed new lighting and a video surveillance system both inside the tower and along a newly renovated path leading to the tower.

The work cost some $700,000 in riverboat casino money.

Michigan City Parks Department Superintendent Darrell Garbacik said Wednesday the video system will eliminate the need for zoo employees to spend time climbing up the tower after hours to make sure no patrons are still inside.

”When it was open to the public, zoo staff had to play security officer and make sure no one was still inside when it came time to close,“ Garbacik said. ”There was also maintenance involved with clearing the paths and things.

”By taking advantage of technology, we don't have the concern of using staff. We think it will work beautifully.“

Aside from adding lights and cameras to the tower and its surrounding areas, contractors tried to keep the rehabilitation as historically accurate as possible, Haas said.

”Rubble walls“ surrounding the tower had to be replaced and Haas said those moves were made - as much as possible - with original rocks and stones.

”We had to be very careful to do it in a historical type of way,“ Haas said. ”We were very sympathetic to the historic nature of the project.“


Pedestrian Path Takes Next Step

BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
Times Staff Writer

August 30, 2004

PORTER -- The town's Waverly Road sidewalk project now has an engineer and a mandate for construction next year.

The Redevelopment Commission this week named Haas & Associates of Michigan City as project engineers. A final contract is subject to further surveying and a cost estimate from Haas.

Haas representative Kenn Kraus said an estimate would have to wait on finalization of the route and a decision on whether two bridges along the way would need any widening. The bridges cross the Little Calumet River and Interstate 94. Surveying will wait until the leaves are off the trees in fall, Kraus said.

The 1.25-mile pedestrian path is set to start on Woodlawn Avenue at League Lane. It will go to Waverly Road and then continue north along Waverly past Old Orchard Apartments to U.S. 20.

It is possible the path will continue along Waverly from Splash Down Dunes Water Park to U.S. 12, commission member Paul Childress said. That will depend on how long grant money for the project holds out, he said. The walking path will be a minimum of six feet wide.

The project will be funded through a $1 million transportation enhancement fund grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation. The town will put up 20 percent of the cost.

Under terms of the grant, the town has until 2007 to build the path, but Childress said the intention is to start and complete the work next year.