CEDAR LAKE | The Town Council is undecided about its support for extending the South Shore Rail line.
Its opinion is reflective of the community, which is split down the middle, the council told Mark Lopez, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky’s chief of staff.
Visclosky, D-Merrillville, was at the Griffith Town Council meeting, so Lopez made the pitch for Cedar Lake’s involvement.
The Congressman’s office has been looking for $8 million in local match money so a South Shore system can be built from Hammond to Dyer.
So far, Munster, Whiting, Hobart, Highland and Hammond have signed on. Visclosky held a similar meeting in Lowell on Monday. That community, too, is split in its support.
“(South Shore) can’t come to Cedar Lake unless it comes to Dyer first,” Lopez said. But beyond that, he could give no guarantees.
The first Dyer-Hammond train could be up and running in nine years, he said. From there, a Cedar lake extension could be nine years or more in arriving.
Viscolsky's office is asking Cedar Lake and others commit up to one-third of their Lake County income tax money toward the project.
Councilman John Foreman, a fan of public transit in general, wondered if the wrong people were being asked.
“It should be (asked) of the people in a referendum” rather than left up to municipal bodies like the council, he said.
Lopez countered that council members are elected by the voters to make decisions on such matters.
Cedar Lake has infrastructure needs of its own, and economic development money might be better spent locally, said Councilman Greg Parker.
“We have needs here that need to be funded,” he said.
Resident Becky Davis wondered how much Cedar Lake will ultimately benefit from the extension.
“We’ll pay for something for 30 years with no guarantee” it will ever come to Cedar Lake.