My turn

When everyone works together, things get done

2013-02-15T00:00:00Z When everyone works together, things get doneBy Tom DeGiulio Times Columnist nwitimes.com
February 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

With each Spring comes the optimism of a new baseball season, gardens popping up and warmer weather. This year, Spring will also signal the start of several projects resulting from intergovernmental cooperation between the Town of Munster and the City of Hammond, Lake County, and the Little Calumet River Commission.

These efforts show that when communities work together, they can accomplish significant things.

March 1 brings the long-awaited effective date for almost 1,600 residences and businesses between Hawthorne and Manor avenues to be officially removed from the flood zone requirement of mandatory flood insurance.

Munster and Hammond jointly funded the engineering study to certify to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Army Corps of Engineers that these properties met all requirements to be removed.

The work of Executive Director Dan Repay and the Little Calumet River Commission, and representatives of public works, police and fire departments, to coordinate the Emergency Response Plans of all the river communities was instrumental.

Residents in Highland, Hammond and Munster have now been removed from the flood insurance requirement. There is still work to do for properties west of Manor Avenue that will be pursued.

The cooperative efforts of Hammond, Munster, the Lake County Highway Department and the Little Cal Commission are moving three bridge projects towards fruition.

The Columbia Avenue bridge will be bid this Spring and reconstructed this Summer. It will be raised to the same level as adjacent flood walls, funded 50 percent by Lake County Highway Department, 25 percent by the Little Cal, and 12.5 percent each by Munster and Hammond.

After Columbia Avenue is completed, the Northcote Bridge will be modified, again to minimize the potential for blockages and flooding. A “siphon” effect will prevent water from breaching the bridge deck.  This project is being split 50/50 between Munster and Hammond.

A new pedestrian/bike bridge will be built over the Little Calumet River from Manor Avenue into the City of Hammond. Munster and Hammond will share the cost of design and construction. The Little Cal  Commission will provide for the approaches from its existing flood protection levees. It is hoped that work can begin in late 2013.

As warm weather approaches, work will restart in earnest on the Poplar Avenue bridge. Funded by the Lake County Highway Department and coordinated with the town, construction crews were able to get a significant portion completed last year.

Community Park improvements will shift to the Little League fields. At the conclusion of the league season, three existing fields will be rebuilt and a small T-ball field converted into a regulation size field. Two buildings with restrooms and storage will be constructed. Field lighting for two recently completed softball fields will be added.

Our first focus for street resurfacing will be the areas where sewer separation, funded by the Hammond Sanitary District, is being completed. A complete list of streets scheduled for resurfacing will be posted at www.munster.org by March 31.

Tom DeGiulio is the town manager of Munster. The opinions expressed are his own. He can be reached at tdegiulio@munster.org.

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