PORTER | With a number of major projects on the books, and an entirely new Town Council, the next few years promise to be a time of transition for the town of Porter.
Although Porter has a rich history of beautiful natural resources, industry like the early brickyards and small-town neighborly living, some of the history in Porter has been around too long, like its infrastructure, and has outlived its usefulness.
So planners are now facing the task of replacing these aging utilities and services to keep pace with the town's growth and current times.
The town's sewer and water lines were so old in many parts of the downtown that they were crumbling. As a result, the town this year will begin rehabbing its sewer infrastructure through the downtown reline project. This rehab begins this spring and removes the 80-year-old old clay pipe and relines it with polyethylene since there are currently sections with roots growing through, clogging the lines.
The town is also in the permitting phase to replace the old Porter Avenue lift station with a new one which won't overflow, since the old one was problematic.
In addition to infrastructure projects, town administrators are focused on ways to bring the millions of visitors who flock each year to the Indiana Dunes State Park and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which lie within Porter's borders, to the downtown to shop, eat and stay.
To that end, town officials and planners have enlisted the help of partners to design the Gateway Plan, part of the town's comprehensive plan that sets guidelines for land use, green infrastructure, transit, non-motorized transportation, capital projects and streetscapes in a section of Porter along Ind. 49 north of Oak Hill Road, south of U.S. 12.
Greg Stinson, new president of the Porter Town Council, said they will continue to develop this plan further to address the downtown's importance.
"We don't want a new set of businesses somewhere that will be in competition with our current downtown businesses. The Gateway Plan does look at alternative compatible businesses, but we want to link the two, so people who come and enjoy things in the Gateway will come and enjoy Hawthorne Park. It's right down the street, it's downtown, and we are offering new programs and events that will take place downtown, and once they're there they will realize there's a nice quaint town there," he said.
One way to link people from the lakefront to downtown is through the use of pedal and pedestrian trails, and Porter has had those on its slate for a few years. They are just now coming to fruition.
Construction is under way for the Porter Brickyard Trail which is expected to be completed at the end of June. This trail will connect the Prairie-Duneland Trail to the Calumet Trail in Dune Acres and hopefully draw even more visitors into Porter's quaint downtown.