Valpo worried about area around old Porter hospital
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent July 4, 2012 6:50PM
Updated: July 4, 2012 10:22PM
VALPARAISO — City officials have some concerns about how Porter hospital’s move to U.S. 6 and Indiana 49 on Aug. 25 will affect the area around the current campus.
The Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission has already begun improvements so that the section between Morgan Boulevard and Roosevelt Road fits with the Eastgate area, which saw improvement starting about five years ago, and the historic downtown area.
However, at the July 10 commission meeting, Executive Director Stu Summers plans to introduce an overall plan for the area to keep improvements going, adding trees and making other improvements.
“We’re worried that that particular corridor is going to be at risk once the hospital leaves,” Summers said, after receiving permission from the Board of Works and Safety to award a sidewalk improvement contract for the north side of Lincolnway.
A municipality’s redevelopment commission has the duty to improve blighted areas and to keep areas from any decline.
“The core of any community’s development is to grow the small businesses and retain them,” Summers said.
Valparaiso’s Redevelopment Commission is ensuring it has redevelopment tools in place.
“Preventative medicine is always better and cheaper than critical care,” Summers said.
The sidewalk replacement will include putting in nine ADA-compliant ramps, replacing buckled sidewalks that wheelchair users can’t travel on and removing driveway aprons that no longer connect to driveways, just the street.
Walsh and Kelly construction received the contract for its low bid of $128,000.
The commission also installed decorative lights along that section of street, removing the traditional “cobra head” ones so Lincolnway had a sense of continuity between Eastgate and downtown, and about two years ago, the Redevelopment Commission put sidewalks on the south side of Lincolnway, connecting it to downtown.
The hospital has been the economic and physical center of that area for about 40 years, and Aug. 25 will be the first time it’s locked its doors since opening.
“The hospital is a big economic generator,” Summers said.
Summers noted that many of the businesses that interact with the hospital are in old houses around Porter’s current campus.
A Porter representative said some of the businesses that are part of the hospital, such as the Northern Indiana Oncology Center and the wound care center, will also relocate to an area near the new hospital this fall.
But the agreement with Valparaiso University said all sites need to be “shovel ready” or ready to build on for the university once the hospital turns them over.