Manchester Meadows residents pan Valpo pathway plan
By James D. WOlf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent September 12, 2012 9:14PM
Updated: October 15, 2012 9:29AM
VALPARAISO — Plans for a pathway connecting the far western subdivision with the heart of the city had detractors at Wednesday night’s Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission meeting.
Some residents of Manchester Meadows did not like the idea of a pathway that would connect the Valparaiso High School area with Oakland Estates and Harrison West subdivisions — and would now be in their backyards.
Resident Rick Gabey said the path would invade the privacy of residents.
“They paid to be there to have that right, and now you’re going to take it away,” Gabey said.
Originally the path was to cut across farm fields in roughly the path it’s presumed that Vale Park Road would eventually go when the western portion of Vale Park was developed.
However, City Engineer Tim Burkman presented a revised plan Wednesday that would cost about $1 million more and go south from Ransom Road to near the high school and cut west, making a “J” shape.
The plan included a few options of how it could connect to the high school, with some options linking the football and softball fields to the pathways.
Resident Bill Harring suggested the city turn the path on to Old Oak Road, where residents already use it as a bike path, and that could make use of the 21 acres of open space with trails on it. He said residents already know what happens on trails because of that open space and regularly call the police.
Resident Kathleen Walsh said she was concerned that the pathway has to be away from roads, and cutting through Manchester Meadows would allow people to be more in tune with residents they see.
Commission members pointed out that the path would take 10 feet of a 50-foot easement and would not abut properties.
Burkman said the path would be about a two-year project, and it’s already partially funded by a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grant.
The grant would pay 80 percent of the estimated $885,000 cost of the original path through the farm fields, so Valparaiso would have paid $177,000 to install the 8-foot wide pathway.
Redevelopment Commission Executive Director Stu Summers noted that the money is not yet in hand, and it could be the last time the city gets CMAQ funding.
Previous city projects that received CMAQ money were the V-Line city bus system, the Chicago Dash (startup and a fourth bus) and the planned five-points intersection roundabout where Roosevelt Road, Vale Park Road and Calumet Avenue meet.
The board voted to have Burkman and school liaison Jim Jorgensen meet with Valparaiso Community Schools officials to get input on how to connect the pathway to the high school area.
Summers said the residents’ concerns and school concerns would all be considered.
Also at the meeting, the commission members voted not to extend the eligible time for façade improvement grants they granted to two businesses.
The commission will honor any approved repairs made before Thanksgiving and pay for half the costs, as agreed.
But the apartment complex at 253 E. Indiana Ave. and the new Hertz car rental business at 1101 Calumet Ave. will not be allowed to extend repairs beyond November and get grant money.
City Council liaison John Bowker noted that in the grant contract, the work needs to be done within 180 days of the agreement.