VALPARAISO | A local environmentalist renewed calls Tuesday to involve the public in plans to rebuild Calumet Trail.
Charlotte Read, a Liberty Township resident who lives next to the trail, attended Porter County Board of Commissioners meeting to ask project officials to develop a schedule for public input.
Plans call for rebuilding the nine-mile trail with asphalt from Mineral Springs Road to Porter and LaPorte County Line Road.
Read said she wants to protect the natural resources along the trail including the habitats of the spotted turtle and the Massasauga Rattlesnake.
“A lot of people have been asking about public participation,” Read said. “How you engineer it can make a difference between possibly helping these animals and plants or wiping them out.”
Read's comments followed a trail engineering proposal by Bob Thompson, a county planner who sought and received commissioners' approval of a trail user agreement license with NIPSCO. The agreement will allow officials to move forward on the trail design.
Thompson said public hearings will be a part of the process, and the project will be subjected to an environmental review.
Though the engineering phase should begin soon, construction is not likely to start until 2014, Thompson said. The project is being funded with $1.6 million in federal highway money and $400,000 from the local Regional Development Authority.
In other businesses, Bob Gerometta, of Gerometta & Kinel Architects, presented plans to renovate and build an addition to the Porter County sheriff's substation on County Road 700 North, just west of Ind. 149.
Plans call for the 2,200-square-foot existing building to be gutted and get new heating, lighting and carpeting. A 1,900-square-foot addition with 1,500-square-foot basement will be constructed. The project's cost is estimated at upwards of $500,000.
When complete, the building will house the Portage Township assessor's office, voter registration machines and offices for the sheriff's department.
Moving the assessor's office will free up space at the North County Government Complex in Portage for court functions, while moving the voting machines opens up space at the County Administration Center in Valparaiso.
Commissioners will hold a special meeting at 2 p.m. Oct. 11 to open bids. Bids will be awarded Oct. 16.