Griffith pledges cash for proposed South Shore extension

2014-03-25T22:30:00Z 2014-03-25T23:44:16Z Griffith pledges cash for proposed South Shore extensionCHARLES F. HABER Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 25, 2014 10:30 pm  • 

GRIFFITH | The Town Council on Tuesday pledged to contribute $20,000 a year toward the proposed South Shore Line extension to Dyer.

The Griffith council stressed the pledge is not binding and is contingent on an acceptable interlocal agreement.

The vote was unanimous, with Councilman Larry Ballah, R-2nd, absent from the meeting.

The vote happened after council members publicly talked among themselves and then with an audience of about 20 residents.

"The council has several issues we have identified," said Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd.

Thus, the pledge does not stipulate a minimum or maximum number of years — which gives the town possession of the money until it might be dispersed.

Councilwoman Patricia Schaadt, R-4th, said about 40 residents sent emails to express their opinion.

"I think that's great," she said.

Council Vice President Glen Gaby, R-1st, said about 95 percent of the emails were against giving 34 percent of the town's portion of the new county economic development income tax, as requested by U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville.

The $20,000 a year represents about 5 percent of the town's anticipated CEDIT revenue of $396,940.

Ryfa said the proposal is too limited in who it benefits.

"The problem is that they are only expanding into two communities" through Munster into Dyer, he said.

Councilman Stan Dobosz, D-5th, said he favors the expansion because people from several towns use the station in East Chicago.

While not pledging the amount requested by Visclosky — about $132,000 annually for 10 years — Gaby said Griffith should still give something "as a good neighbor."

Jerome agreed that this would leave more money to repair many of Griffith's damaged roads.

Jerome also said there is no guarantee that other expenses will not rise.

"I don't know how many of you believe that the one and one half percent county income tax is going to stay at one and one-half percent," he said.

A woman in the audience said she has used the South Shore and that her truck was broken into twice at the Hammond station.

Liz Goral, who sits on the Griffith Safety Board, said she rides the South Shore and experiences many late trains and others that break down.

Goral said she is not in favor of the expansion until those problems are solved.

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