La PORTE — After nearly 20 minutes of scrambling to come up with a quorum, four of the seven La Porte City Council members made it to City Hall to proceed Monday with their regularly scheduled meeting of the Common Council.
The council introduced an ordinance that would turn Lake Shore Drive into a one-way street going southbound from Grangemouth Drive to Craven Drive.
Changing the flow of Lake Shore Drive is part of the Park Department’s master plan for improvements to Soldiers Memorial Park. The plan suggests that the road be reconstructed to include a multi-use trail along the shoreline. It would also allow for additional renovations, such as installing overlooks and piers for resting, fishing and wildlife observation around Stone Lake.
Councilman Joe Mrozinske was concerned about public awareness surrounding the change to Lake Shore Drive.
“I’m not convinced that even if we talked to all of the residents in that area, similar to what happened with Clear Lake Boulevard, whether people would truly be aware of these changes,” Mrozinske said.
Mrozinske mentioned finding a lack of awareness about the project among his students and colleagues.
“I think there needs to be more awareness," Mrozinske said. "I know that when we had [meetings] about Clear Lake Boulevard there were several of us who had concerns and they didn’t [know] what was going to happen until [it was reconstructed].”
Councilwoman Karyl Machek Feikes commented, “I just think that we’ve learned a lot from Clear Lake Boulevard. I think it has been out there. It had to go through the Park Board and their master plan. There has been a lot of discussion.”
Beth Shrader, City Planner for the City of La Porte approached the podium to address Mrozinske’s concerns.
“The section of Lake Shore Drive that is under consideration for conversion into a one-way has been identified, as part of our asset management plan, as a road that needs full reconstruction,” said Shrader, “That needs to happen regardless of the one-way conversion, or if it remains a two-way street. If the road is converted into a one-way the cost for full reconstruction is less than if you were to maintain two-ways through that section.”
Mrozinske urged the council to consider waiting until the next administration is in office to make any changes to Lake Shore Drive.
"Because of the cost of this [project], and being that we are one month away from an election…I think that this type of project needs to wait and let the next administration have a voice,” Mrozinske said.
Shrader explained, “the way that the funding [is envisioned] to be sourced is [by] using community crossing funds, which is a 50/50 grant program using state money and money that has been earmarked by the council as the match for that grant program. That would go towards the road portion. Once the pavement for the road ends, funds [will be] sought for the trail along the shoreline.”
She continued, “we’re seeking grant funds from the Healthcare Foundation. Our preliminary conversations with them indicate that they would be interested in participating in this, assuming that all of the other funds are lined up and approvals are granted from the City Council.”
Mrozinske asserted, “I think that to start with this project, right now, without more public awareness would be a mistake at this time. Let the next administration make these decisions. There are too many us of who, potentially, aren’t going to be here in couple of months. This is a huge commitment of dollars. I think a new set of eyes taking a look at it would be [more favorable].”
Shrader responded, “I don’t believe that there is any commitment of dollars associated with this ordinance. What it does allow is further investigation, possible surveying and engineering to make sure that it is a feasible plan. This is a very preliminary step and much more would need to be done before it got to the point that it was a construction project.”
The ordinance has not yet been voted on by the City Council. A vote is expected to be conducted by the council during the Oct. 21 meeting of the Common Council at City Hall at 6 p.m.