Lowell pledges funds for South Shore extension

2014-04-14T22:00:00Z 2014-04-14T23:25:07Z Lowell pledges funds for South Shore extensionMelanie Csepiga Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
April 14, 2014 10:00 pm  • 

LOWELL | In a 3-2 vote Monday, the Town Council committed a portion of its economic development income tax money to support extension of the South Shore commuter rail line.

Lowell Town Council President Edgar Corns, R-5th, called for a motion to give 15 percent of the town's share of county economic development income tax and got it.

Councilmen Phillip Kuiper, D-4th, and Donald Parker, D-3rd, supported the measure.

Councilmen Robert Philpot, R-2nd, and Craig Earley, D-1st, opposed it.

"That's for the next 30 years. Do you understand that, guys?" Earley asked. "This comes from our taxpayers. That's almost $30,000 a year for 30 years," he said.

The commitment approved Monday is 15 percent of $192,000 annually to begin in 2015.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, earlier made the rounds of municipalities, including Lowell, to beat the drum for the South Shore extension to Dyer.

Although some municipalities are still considering Visclosky's request, the congressman says enough support has been pledged to move the rail plan forward.

While current plans call for the rail extension to end at Main Street in Dyer, it could eventually go as far south as Lowell.

Also, Earley reported he was joined by Kuiper and Lowell Fire Chief Clint Gorball in a meeting with county officials to determine who would pay for the E-911 radios that must be purchased. The meeting was needed because the Lowell Volunteer Fire Department is supported by multiple entities.

"We successfully defended it should be tied to the assessed valuation," Earley said.

That would make Lowell's portion about 33 percent, or an estimated $70,000 to $80,000.

"It could have been double that," Earley said.

County officials had discussed basing payments from West Creek, Cedar Creek and Eagle Creek townships and Lowell on a percentage of calls, for instance.

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