01 Feb 2017

Dyer council OK’s resolution approving West Lake Corridor project


South Shore News

DYER — In a 3-1 vote Tuesday, the Town Council gave the green light to a resolution approving the West Lake commuter rail project with specific recommendations. Voting for that resolution were Debbie Astor, R-5th Ward; Jeff Dekker, R-2nd Ward, and Mary Tanis, R-4th Ward. Cathy J. Lareau, R-3rd Ward, voted against this version. Joe Cinko, D-1st Ward, was absent. One of three resolutions drawn up regarding the West Lake Corridor project for the special meeting, the approved 2017-06-A Resolution featured the South Shore’s preferred option to extend the railroad 9 miles south from a new Gateway station in Hammond to Main Street on the Munster-Dyer border.

 

These plans currently call for a layover yard that would provide custodial service to six South Shore trains. The yard would stretch into a triangle of land bordered by Main Street, Sheffield Avenue and the new rail line to the east of an existing rail line. That triangle includes 11 homes that could be acquired through eminent domain and demolished. The remaining two resolutions that weren’t considered after the vote called for the facilities not to be located in Dyer, but made recommendations about the location of the layover yard. Tuesday’s special Town Council meeting drew several dozen residents with six of those present expressing their opinions and concerns prior to the vote. This was a change in the agenda initiated by Dekker, town council president. Connee Trepton said the layover station “is a bad situation for Dyer” and suggested putting up a solid wall to protect nearby residents in the Meadows subdivision from the noise. Paula Johns expressed concern that the project would increase taxes for Dyer residents. John Wagner, whose home is located in the triangle of land being proposed for the layover station, said the project will “become an attractive nuisance. It doesn’t sit well with me.” Council members also expressed their views prior to the vote.

Tanis said the West Lake project would provide “a welcoming into town if we do it right, hopefully surrounded by transit-oriented development.” Lareau again expressed her view that this project isn’t in Dyer’s best interest. Astor questioned why Lareau had accepted four free South Shore passes from NICTD President Mike Noland last week as a gift that Astor said council members shouldn’t take. Lareau said she went on a tour of TOD facilities organized by One Region and that the passes came through DeGiulio’s office. “It’s all about transparency,” Astor said to which Lareau loudly responded, “I’m transparent.” The approved resolution’s recommendations include the following:

  • The proposed plans be modified to eliminate any connections between the extension of Main Street and any streets within the Town of Dyer, including Seminary Drive;
  • The Dyer layover yard, parking lot and crew welfare building be designed and constructed to minimize the sight lines and noise for all existing neighboring development and Sheffield Avenue;
  • The project design be modified to integrate bike paths around the station area, and
  • The project design be modified to include a remote cell phone pick up parking lot.

Town Manager Tom DeGiulio explained that the recommended remote cell phone area would be a few spots incorporated in the regular lot.

Article by Lu Ann Franklin NWI Times Correspondent. Click here to see the article on NWI Times.