When he retired from the National Park Services, Bernie Doyle moved from Hawaii back to Northwest Indiana where he had grown up. Now town manager for Chesterton, Doyle describes the town, population 13,000, as the perfect place to live and work.
It’s a town he knows well, having grown up in Valparaiso and visiting Chesterton frequently to swim at Porter Beach and stop at the Port Drive-in, which has been in business since 1953. The continuity of small town living is one of the many factors Doyle cites when explaining the lure of Chesterton.
“We’re not a trendy community like Carmel and Naperville, but we have some common themes making Chesterton a great place,” he says. “It’s a location not just to work and live but also to play. We have the Indiana Dunes State Park and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and we’re seeing the results of a $2 million bond for upgrading all parks such as adding new playground equipment, a new splash pad, new benches and picnic tables and new tennis and basketball courts.”
The quaint historic downtown with its eclectic shops and restaurants is home to the Chesterton European Farmers Market, held on Saturdays, with its plethora of vendors offering an assortment of goods reminiscent of what one would find in Europe. Coffee Creek Park also hosts a farmer’s market on Wednesdays.
But that’s not all. Doyle’s list is long.
As for housing, Doyle says Chesterton has a variety of options.
“People who want a multimillion dollar mansion with a gated community, we have that. If you want a cute starter home, we have that as well. Duneland School (district) is one of the finest in the state,” he says, noting commuters can take the South Shore to Chicago.
For seniors, there are more living options as well. The new StoryPoint will feature 162-units for independent living and senior assistance. Residences at Coffee Creek will have studio, one- and two-bedroom senior living apartments with a secure memory support neighborhood. Residents there can enjoy executive chef prepared meals in a restaurant and family-style dining room, a casual bistro, specialized media and activity rooms, two salons/spas, a solarium, and outdoor terraces.
Doyle says another factor attracting people to Chesterton is the town’s philosophy of smart growth.
“We recruit who we want to come to the area and we don’t offer incentives to those we don’t want,” he says, noting that the town works hard to bring in biomedical and high-tech companies such as Urschel Laboratories into the community. “Our specialized medical services are unique to a community our size. When you stop to think about it, we’re a town of just 13,000 and we have a top orthopedic center—Lakeshore Bone & Joint Institute as well as Chesterton Medical Center. When the new Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City is completed, we’ll have two state-of-the-art hospitals, one just outside of town and one less than 12 miles away.”
He adds: “We’re not so small there’s not anything to do, and we’re not so large that you don’t have that community feel.”