Valpo mayor too sick to read his own state of the city speech
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent January 29, 2013 4:30PM
Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas . | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet
Updated: March 2, 2013 7:02AM
VALPARAISO — There were two surprises with Mayor Jon Costas’ annual State of the City speech Tuesday.
Because Costas was recovering from the flu, City Administrator Bill Oeding presented the speech the mayor wrote, and the speech mentioned plans for downtown town houses.
The speech noted recent improvements and that Costas had promised 10 years ago to revitalize the dying downtown.
The speech also mentioned that the city is helping the Porter County Museum move into the old police station on Indiana Avenue, as well as exploring other art-related uses for it, before talking about the further steps.
“Our next phase in the remaking of our downtown is to encourage the private construction of dense town home housing around the downtown,” Oeding read.
“More housing in the downtown will drive commerce, sustainability and activity,” Oeding said.
This is not a new plan, Oeding said after the speech at Valparaiso University during the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce’s 101st annual meeting.
Costas’ administration has always talked about how quality downtown housing would be a boon; however, there are no specific plans.
“It’s up to private development to come in and decide and figure,” Oeding said.
The speech also touched on other plans, including the late spring construction of a roundabout where Vale Park Road, Roosevelt Road and Calumet Avenue intersect. “This year we will build the mother of all roundabouts at the Five Points intersection,” Oeding read to laughter from the approximately 400 Chamber members attending.
“While there has been some angst about this, I want you to know that we have engineered it within an inch of its life and are firmly convinced it will be a safe and effective solution to a problematic intersection,” Oeding read.
“And for those who are too timid to jump in, the city will be providing certified car instructors to take you through for the first time.”
Other points the speech touched on included:
The study of the Indiana 49 corridor to bring in more business with shovel-ready sites. The speech also noted that Urschel Labs is leaving the city because Coffee Creek in Chesterton had a 163-acre parcel that was ready for the business.
The opening of St. Mary Medical Center off Indiana 49 next week.
The city’s efforts to cut costs when it is getting less tax money than six years ago yet has more residents, and the city’s ability to remain financially sound with little borrowing and “an ample rainy day fund.”
The reduction in revenue comes from Indiana’s tax caps, property tax appeals and “a lackluster economy,” according to the speech.