Portage gets ideas on improving U.S. 20 corridor
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com April 8, 2013 11:54PM
Updated: May 10, 2013 6:07AM
PORTAGE — The U.S. 20 corridor offers a hodgepodge of light-industrial and trucking businesses, fast-food restaurants and rundown motels.
But the city sought residents’ input on ways to improve the problem area at a Monday night forum at Woodland Park.
Mayor James Snyder said the city has focused much of recent energies on downtown Portage and the area north of Interstate 94.
Armed with large maps of the area, five groups considered several topics, including land use, transportation, infrastructure, zoning and beautification. Ideas ran the gamut from an indoor ice rink to
expanding walking and bicycle trails in the area.
Mike Handlon, the attorney for Portage’s Board of Zoning Appeals and Plan Commission, said the light-industrial and trucking businesses fit in well with U.S. 20’s proximity to I-94.
“I feel aside from aesthetics it’s good fit there,” Handlon said. “Being there is not bad, but they should look presentable.”
“We need to think about what U.S. 20 can support,” he said. “It was developed as light-industrial and support for trucking. This is what U.S. 20 looks like from Lake County through Michigan City. To make significant changes you need to designate different zoning.”
Alan Lichnerowicz’s property backs up to the south side of U.S. 20, and he identified poor lighting and the dangerous T-intersection at Dombey Road as concerns.
“Ripley Street is so close that I would rather have the trucks focused on the west end rather than spread out,” Lichnerowicz said.
Former city councilman Ed Gottschling said the city and state need to invest in road cuts and curbs as well as stormwater inlets to make the area more attractive to potential businesses.
“At the (Indiana) 249 intersection, we should close a liquor store and kick out trucks that park around there in the outlot of a hotel that went into foreclosure,” he said.
Adam Higgins, chairman of the BZA, said improving the Indiana 249 intersection should be the first focus of redeveloping the area, then eventually moving out to the east and west ends.
“We need to reassess zoning in that area to create an oasis-type area,” Higgins said.