Town council members in Chesterton and Porter will be asked this week to decide on the fate of a proposal to resurrect vintage South Shore train cars as a local tourist attraction.
Indiana Dunes Tourism Executive Director Lorelei Weimer said she will appear Monday in Chesterton and in Porter on Tuesday seeking $4,300 from each town to help fund a feasibility study on the potential of the project.
The tourism group has already approved $6,500 toward this first phase of the effort and the Porter County Board of Commissioners contributed $4,300 last week.
If the towns approve the funding, the feasibility study will look at three options for use of the train cars, Weimer said. The first is a tourist trolley route from the Dune Park South Shore station to the tourism bureau on Ind. 49 to the downtown areas of Porter and Chesterton and back again, she said.
The second proposal is for a moving attraction on a single parcel of land, while the third option is for a stationary exhibit, Weimer said.
Weimer said she decided to pursue the proposal after learning that more than $2 million in vintage South Shore cars, track and a bridge are available to be donated if the details of the project can be worked out.
"This is a major collection," she said.
The collection includes a wooden car dating back to 1908 and five cars from the 1926-29 era.
If this opportunity is not taken advantage of, the collection will be sold off and the option will be gone, Weimer said.
If the initial study determines one or more of the proposals are feasible, the potential for an economic return far surpasses the initial investment, she said. The second step will involve seeking out grant money to proceed.
The attraction would be operated by the nonprofit South Shore Line Heritage Foundation.