CHESTERTON | The town of Chesterton is currently in the engineering phase of what is likely the largest project it has ever undertaken, according to Town Engineer Mark O'Dell.
That project, the Ind. 49 corridor, has been on the radar for town planners for many years and is finally coming to fruition, bringing utilities to the tracts of land along Ind. 49 south to the Indiana Toll Road and beyond to attract businesses to the region.
"It's all part of the logical expansion of the town," said Chesterton Town Manager Bernie Doyle.
The first phase of the project will see construction of sanitary sewer (both gravity and forced main), as well as a fiber optics conduit that will run alongside Ind. 49, tying into existing sanitary sewer and going south through property owned by I-80 Partners, LLC, and Pope Farm.
"We're adamant about the job opportunities that will come from not only sewer and water utilities, but from fiber optics, which have always been an integral part," said Sharon Darnell, a longtime Town Council member. "We've invested $400,000 in fiber optics as part of this project, so that should tell you our level of commitment. We're past the conceptual phase and now we're at the nuts and bolts phase and the things that really work."
Chesterton officials hope to garner the support of county planners to bring this access even farther south of the Toll Road to a parcel of land just south of the new Porter hospital, a stretch of land eyed by county planners as vital to development.
"We really want this to be a regional partnership in smart growth," says Doyle.
So far the plan has received early support, especially from John Evans, president of the Porter County Board of Commissioners, who says he thinks the project will benefit the entire county.
"I think it's a good idea that Chesterton has, and they've presented it to the county as something they'd like to work on together. I participated in a joint meeting with the County Council and county commissioners about this project, and the enthusiasm was high. I'm hopeful that the project will go through," Evans said.
But Chesterton also continues to expand its planning to recruit medical, technological and distribution industry businesses along the corridor, as well as in other sectors of the town.
Porter's Chesterton Medical Campus, a 19,000-square-foot facility, features more than a dozen patient examination rooms to accommodate family health care needs, an assisted-living facility is currently under construction and Monarch Manor, a planned senior-living development with about 80 one- and two-bedroom units, is planned adjacent to the facilities.
Downtown, new businesses continue to develop, such as the new Urban Soles on Calumet, the two-story Flower Cart just down the road, and restaurants that take advantage of the Riverfront District designation for a fine dining three-way liquor license.
Villa Nova, Sage, Octave Grill, and Zing Pizzeria are only a few of the new restaurants in the past year and a half that have come to Chesterton as a result of its embrace of development.
Chesterton's events continue to draw tens of thousands of people to the town, such as the weekly European Market and the Taste of Duneland. This year's Wizard of Oz Festival has been set for Sept. 14-16.