La PORTE — The La Porte City Council voted in favor of an ordinance that will turn Lake Shore Drive into a one-way street going southbound from Grangemouth Drive to Craven Drive. The decision came after a lengthy discussion about the road being reconstructed.
The ordinance was read for the second and final time during Monday’s City Council meeting. Lake Shore Drive will be rebuilt to include a multi-use trail that will run along the Stone Lake shoreline, the first of many proposed renovations to be executed from the La Porte Park and Recreation Department’s Soldiers Memorial Park master plan.
It’s expected that the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte will fund the bulk of the projected $888,000 cost for the multi-use trail.
Councilman Timothy Stabosz started the discussion by saying, “the way the road is designed almost suggests that it was put in as an afterthought. The road is against the lake. Gravel goes off into the lake. It’s depressing. There’s no integration between the road and the lake. It’s a wasteland.”
Councilman Joe Mrozinske was hoping to table the ordinance until after the Nov. 5 election, to allow the new administration to weigh in on the ordinance and the Park Department’s master plan.
“It is a huge undertaking. I’m thankful to [The Healthcare Foundation of La Porte] for this generous donation to this project. I have taken a look at some of the plans that have happened in our city, [including] the 2015 revitalization plan. A lot of community effort went into that and a lot of the things that pertain to that policy were kind of thrown by the wayside,” said Mrozinske. “I see this as an issue, [especially] given the fact that, potentially, in two months we could have a new administration that is going to come in and finalize a lot of the details of this project. During that time, there is the potential for retaining only two council people, a brand new [Board of Public Works and Safety], a new mayor and legal counsel.”
Many in attendance were against waiting to pass the ordinance.
Park Superintendent Mark Schreiber explained that reconstructing Lake Shore Drive would lead to more improvements to some of La Porte’s decades neglected parks and trails.
“Being able to get a trail in this particular section will determine how the trail goes from here on out. If we can’t run a trail [along the shoreline] there’s really no reason to look at some of the other enhancements. You can’t tell somebody [that] to get to a fishing pier, they have to walk down a two-way trafficked street,” said Schreiber.
Stabosz was also resistant to tabling the ordinance.
“I believe that this has been vetted enough at this point,” Stabosz said.
Safety concerns were also a source of apprehension for Mrozinske along with many who approached the podium during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Councilman Miles Fettinger remarked on how the ordinance had been approved by the Park Board and recommended by the Traffic Commission before being presented to the council.
"The Fire Chief and Police Chief are already on the Traffic Commission and they already signed off that [safety] wouldn’t be an issue and that everything would be fine,” Fettinger said.
Schreiber recommended getting started as soon as possible.
“This is all part of a plan that builds. Everything is going to connect in due time," Schreiber said. "We don’t have the funding to go and make up for two decades of not putting in these trails. We have already discussed a plan to connect this trail [along] Lake Shore Drive with the Chessie going down Weller [Avenue] which will give us greater connectivity.”
The ordinance passed 6-1 after the council called for a vote. The multi-use trail could see construction as soon as spring 2020.