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PROPER 
Weather Updates

Valpo residents could get rain gardens, rain barrels

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



Residents of a flood-prone Valparaiso neighborhood will have the option of bidding on the construction of rain gardens and other stormwater management systems for their yards.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority will manage distribution of a $324,878 grant from the U.S. Forest Service. Ecological consulting firm JFNew held a meeting with residents of Valparaiso’s Memorial neighborhood in February and about 50 people attended to learn more about the auction.

JFNew representative Rod Ginter explained at Tuesday’s RDA working group meeting that Northern Indiana has lost forest and wetlands, which serve as natural barriers for storm water.

The idea of the project is for residents to replace the barriers by naming what they’d spend to purchase rain barrels or build rain gardens or vegetative swales. Along with the Forest Service grant, the RDA, Valparaiso and JFNew chipped in a combined $50,000 in funding to help residents save on construction costs.

“The closer they are to the actual budget for construction, the more likely they’ll get the project,” Ginter said.

For example, an average rain garden costs $2,500, and in a survey JFNew held of residents who attended the initial meeting, potential bids came in as high as $1,000. About half of the residents said they’d be interested in installing a rain garden.

“Hopefully we can get the cost down on construction, so we can accommodate everyone who wants one,” Ginter said.

Along with Valparaiso’s presentation, RDA board members also heard an update on the town of Porter’s Gateway to the Dunes Project. The town has received $1.8 million for the shoreline redevelopment project and plans to ask for grant dollars for the second- and third-year phases. Construction is under way to revamp three bridges along Indiana 49 at U.S. 20, U.S. 12 and over the South Shore Line tracks.

The bridges are being updated from the state’s standard design to include sconces and sandstone-colored stained concrete.

, said Porter’s Director of Engineering and Development Matt Keiser.

Overall, the project seeks to extend the park experience along the Indiana 49 corridor by adding landscaping features, strategically linking trails and facilitating complementary development in Porter that works well with businesses in surrounding areas.

“The reason why 3 million folks visit northern Porter County is because of the resources of the natural environment whether it’s Lake Michigan or the Dunes,” said A.J. Monroe with SEH of Indiana. “It’s always important to understand the natural resources and why people come to the area. Protecting and enhancing those resources are very important.”

Contact Chelsea Schneider Kirk at 648-3072.



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