Panel gives early approval to debt
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com June 23, 2014 6:48PM
The Gary/Chicago International Airport terminal. The airport authority on Tuesday will consider entering negotiations with two private groups to manage the airport. | File photo
Updated: June 26, 2014 11:19AM
GARY — The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority gave its initial approval to a potential $35 million bond issue at its Monday meeting.
The ordinance advanced on a 5-0 vote, and other sources of funding could be added to get to the $35 million, including low-interest funding for community airports from the Indiana Finance Authority. Attorney Rich Hill, who is advising the airport on the bond issue, said the next step in the process is a public hearing that could take place as early as July 14.
This is actually the second time the board has attempted a bond issue in the past year, but the first one was never approved by Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson due to questions about the $166 million runway expansion being fully funded by the bond issue.
“Are we at that point ... do we have enough?” commissioner Denise Dillard asked.
Hill said the bond issue will make possible full completion of the runway expansion project. Additional details on the sources of funds and their specific uses will be discussed at the public hearing, Hill said.
The runway expansion is currently stalled due to a railroad embankment, which carries Canadian National trains to Kirk Yard. Airport Director B.R. Lane said officials are meeting weekly with the railroads to reroute the tracks so the berm can be removed and the airport can expand its main runway to 8,900 feet.
The airport approved two other measures which inch them closer to achieving that goal. CSX is abandoning its Fort Wayne line north of the airport to avoid crossing nearby Canadian National tracks. Lane said no one had opposed the plan during a public comment period conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration.
In addition, the board approved a request to vacate a portion of Garfield Street and two nearby alleyways to assist CSX in improving the existing Gary branch line, said board attorney Lee Lane. The area is just north of the Fort Wayne line. CSX is in talks to purchase five properties adjacent to the streets as well, but all of them are vacant lots.
The board approved several contracts as well.
Merrillville-based Cender and Company received approximately $45,000 to provide updated information to bond underwriters.
Gorman Group and Professional Services were hired for $8,875 and $8,400, respectively, to appraise the 53 properties owned by the city and redevelopment commission, potentially for future private development use.
DLZ was approved for $150,650 to do several environmental projects, including monthly railroad settlement surveys, a topographic study of potential green stormwater initiatives, and a site study for a property north of Chicago Avenue with an underground storage tank.
The board approved a $7,500 per month marketing contract with Resolute Consulting as well.