VALPARAISO | With costs and opposition from residents rising, Valparaiso's Redevelopment Commission voted Wednesday to go back to the original, direct alignment for the Vale Park West pathway.
A proposal to change the route between the dead ends of Vale Park at the west boundary of Keystone Commons and the east boundary of Windsor Park Estates to a route that would connect with more potential users of the pathway has been studied for almost a year.
The commission hired The Troyer Group to study a route that went south from Keystone Commons and connected with the Valparaiso High School property before turning west along the northern boundaries of subdivisions on Harrison Boulevard. It would connect with Windsor Park at West Wind Drive.
The city has approval from the Northwestern Indiana Regional Plan Commission for $708,000 in federal congestion mitigation/air quality program funds to cover 80 percent of the cost of the project. The change in route pushed the estimated cost past $1.5 million.
Subdivision residents objected to the pathway being in their backyards. After looking at other options, the city recommended going with the original alignment, which follows the route of a city water line installed a few years ago.
This path, originally estimated to cost $885,000, is now estimated at $1 million plus another $236,000 for right of way acquisition through agricultural fields. The city has applied for additional CMAQ funds, and the commission's Executive Director Stuart Summers said it appears NIRPC will approve the $330,000 request in the fall round of funding.
The change back to the original alignment, will mean additional work by the consultant at a cost of $29,297, of which the city's share will be less than $6,000 under the grant. It will bring the total cost for Troyer to study the route and prepare the construction drawings to $237,024.
"Pathways are a favorite of respondents to the parks system citizen surveys," Summers said in his memo to the commission. "The Vale Park West system will connect several neighborhoods and subdivisions to major destinations, such as the high school."
City Engineering Director Tim Burkman said the engineering is scheduled to be completed in time for bids to be opened in January 2015 for construction that spring. The project will include a 300-foot bridge over Beauty Creek to connect with Windsor Park.
Councilman Jan Dick, a member of the commission, said, "I hope this is the last time we change the route."