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Southsider2k12
post Aug 20 2007, 01:01 PM
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http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=54065.42

QUOTE
Co. Committee To Look At Intermodal
Officials to start advisory task force to ensure ‘transparent’ process in development.

Laurie Wink
The News-Dispatch

LA PORTE - An advisory task force is being created to help county officials evaluate prospective developers and sites for an intermodal freight terminal in La Porte County.

County Commission President Barbara Huston said in a press release Friday the commissioners are developing an "orderly and fair process" that would involve public input. The task force will have 15 to 20 members.

The convergence of rail lines, coupled with closeness to major interstate highways, has positioned La Porte County as a prime location for a facility that could create jobs and boost economic development. It would serve as a place where cargo is transferred between trucks and trains.

Two railroad companies are said to be eying locations here, but are saying little publicly about their plans. Some property owners have said they have been approached by a real estate company that has been buying options on farmland in southern La Porte County.

"We will put a very public, transparent process in place to evaluate developers and sites before we ever give approvals to anyone," Huston said.

Huston said the county has received multiple inquiries from real estate firms, venture capital groups, railroads and real estate investment trusts interested in prospective county locations. She said county attorney Shaw Friedman and county economic development coordinator Matt Reardon will coordinate contacts and issue a request of interest to identify serious proposals.

Her own preference is to use the Kingsbury Industrial Park as the site of the intermodal facility, but she and the other commissioners are open to all possibilities, she said.
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Roger Kaputnik
post Aug 21 2007, 09:43 AM
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What is needed is open, public meetings announced adequately in advance. People do not trust committees that do not have open meetings, nor should they.


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Southsider2k12
post Aug 22 2007, 07:40 AM
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I can tell you from experience that even the public events are not that well attended. People don't usually show up until after the fact.
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Roger Kaputnik
post Aug 22 2007, 11:57 AM
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It might be different if things were decided in open meetings instead of behind closed doors, with public meetings held as window dressing.


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Southsider2k12
post Aug 23 2007, 08:00 AM
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http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...;ArticleID=3532

QUOTE
Residents Rail Against Intermodal
About 500 attend meeting, oppose idea; most local officials keeping an open mind

Stan Maddux
For The News-Dispatch

UNION MILLS - It seemed as if every one of the 500 residents who turned out for a meeting Tuesday night in Union Mills were against a rail yard that's proposed basically right in their backyard.

But most of the elected officials in attendance are keeping an open mind until they balance the increase in traffic and other impacts with the thousands of new jobs and millions in additional property taxes projected.

"The challenge in this thing is how do you maximize the job growth but minimize the noise; the pollution; the traffic; the infrastructure problems," La Porte County attorney Shaw Friedman said.

Already committed to opposing the intermodal facility, though, is La Porte County Councilman Terry Garner of Hanna.

"I will never sell my soul to the devil," said Garner, whose comments drew wild applause from the overflow crowd at the Noble Township Volunteer Fire Department on County Road 800 South.

Often grumbling, many citizens demanded to know who the main financial players are behind a proposal that could bring significant change to their quiet, agricultural community.

They also accused officials of knowing more than they're willing to share despite repeated assurances from leaders such as county councilman Jerry Cooley, who said "basically, we don't know any more than you do."

One thing is for certain.

It appears a final decision on where to locate one of the intermodal facilities that have been speculated about the past few years appears near, with Union Mills at the top of the list.

Officials revealed a 15 to 21 member task force consisting of elected officials, railroad representatives, citizens and others will be formed to evaluate all sites proposed for an intermodal facility.

Final approval will rest with the La Porte County Board of Zoning Appeals to decide changes in zoning that would be required.

Friedman did reveal he's been privy to some talks involving an intermodal facility and, in a bid to calm the restless crowd, said no site has been chosen.

He failed to sway many residents of Union Mills strongly convinced that one of the intermodal facilities is targeted for their area on existing farmland.

They insist a better location would be six miles to the east in the Kingsbury Industrial Park, which is more secluded with plenty of old industrial sites that could be reused.

Friedman said the committee will aggressively seek more than one proposal for an intermodal facility, including any sites that involve Kingsbury Industrial Park.

"We're saying all sites are on the table. This is not a done deal," Friedman said.

The meeting was called by a local citizens group opposed to an intermodal facility in hopes of influencing decision makers.

Involved in the opposition movement is 87-year-old Ruth Minich, a longtime farmer in the Kingsbury-Union Mills area.

"You're really blessed. You're the stewards of your land. Don't turn it over to anyone else," she told the crowd.
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mcstumper
post Aug 23 2007, 08:40 PM
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Realistically, how much new construction can even be done in the Kingsbury "Industrial" Plant. I once heard that much of the property was off-limits because of half buried unexploded ordinance. I guess a bulldozer rolling over a howitzer shell would get the land leveled real quick-like.

Here's the kind of stuff you'll be clearing off that property:
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/2466792

If I had to guess why CSX wants to build in Union Mills and not Kingsbury, it would be that they used to own another north-south rail line that ran through UM. The line from UM southward was sold; the line north of UM was abandoned and ripped up. It is possible that they still own a nice chunk of land north of UM that they just want to add on to. I will go to the geeky railfan forum that I lurk on and pose this to them...


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JHeath
post Aug 24 2007, 08:38 AM
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I know that it's important to maintain the farm land that we have in our county, but what about the "thousands of new jobs and millions in additional property taxes projected"? Isn't anyone else out there concerned about the lack of industrial growth in our area...or am I the only one?
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Southsider2k12
post Aug 24 2007, 08:55 AM
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Well you have just hit on the flip side of the big picture in these situations.

Think back to some of the occurences that have caused controversy lately.

-BP expansion
-Intermodal
-Illiana Expressway
-Transfer station

What do they all have in common?

-They would all bring high dollar jobs to the area.
-They were all viciously opposed by the vast majority of the local population

Was Mitch Daniels right when he said that our area wasn't business friendly? To the outsider it would be easy to see that viewpoint. What exactly have we done that is business friendly? We have the huge expansion of gambling and retail, but even then, we shot down the Bass Pro Shop which wanted to locate here. Like it or not, it sends the message to people from outside of the area that this is NIMBY territory.
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JHeath
post Aug 24 2007, 09:15 AM
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And yet, these same NIMBY folks are the same people who are complaining all too often that there are no opportunities for job here...

Hmm...IMHO, bring on the Intermodal! We need the jobs.
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TRAILCREEKKID
post Aug 24 2007, 10:58 AM
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QUOTE(JHeath @ Aug 24 2007, 10:15 AM) *

And yet, these same NIMBY folks are the same people who are complaining all too often that there are no opportunities for job here...

Hmm...IMHO, bring on the Intermodal! We need the jobs.

We would do well to locate the dang thing in a vacated industrial park of Kingsbury, and reallocate the the sucker to some profitable end. And then MC should learn from their example, and reallocate all our vacated retail sites and brownfields to new business ventures before allowing further construction on undeveloped land.
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JHeath
post Aug 24 2007, 11:57 AM
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The issue with Kingsbury is the potential for expolsives buried underground. I wouldn't want anyone that I know to be operating the bulldozer that hits a grenade, and I'm sure others here may feel the same.

Plus, from a business standpoint, isn't it more fiscally responsible to build, or rebuild, on property you already own?
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Southsider2k12
post Aug 24 2007, 12:23 PM
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Actually my feeling, for once, pretty well follow the op-ed from the ND. In my opinion, there is no question we need infrastructure investment in LaPorte County, especially outside of MC and LP, if we ever want to advance economically. I understand the preservation of farmland, but the growth in our demographics in LaPorte County isn't towards farmers. It is towards blue collar type jobs and service industry employment. Right now we are filling the service end of that, but growth in industrial type jobs has been pretty well non-exsistant. Let's be honest, these are the types of jobs that can be considered middle class, and not the stuff you would get at Super Wal-Mart or Lowes.

I do fully agree that the process has been flawed though. There needs to be more transparency, and that is a theme not just in this occasion, but all throughout our governments, from the smallest municipality to the federal system. Hopefully that will change. Even if it isn't what the public wants, we deserve to know what is being done in our name.

QUOTE
Intermodal Process
Debate Has Included Pandering

Editorial

The proposed intermodal transportation complex that could be developed in southern La Porte County is the single largest economic development opportunity for the county in the last half century. Not only would it employ thousands, it could attract hundreds of related businesses, all of which would put people to work. The project would add immensely to the county's tax base.

We support this project. It will put people to work and will help provide a solid economic foundation for La Porte County for decades to come. Supporters of the project must work hard to keep it on track and moving ahead.

But at the same time, the serious concerns expressed by hundreds of south county residents Tuesday night must be addressed as best they can. County officials are working to make the process - so far clouded in secrecy - more "transparent," which is good.

Ultimately, however, the interests of those who own land around the proposed site may very well collide with the interests of the railroad company said to have purchased options on thousands of acres of farmland in the Union Mills area.

And while government, through planning and zoning and the permitting process, has some say about the use of that land, private landowners, whether they are homeowners or a big railroad, have the right to use their land as they see fit, if it is in a legally permitted way.

No amount of assurances that such a project will not destroy the quality of life in southern La Porte County will make everyone completely comfortable, but some of the political posturing isn't helping.

County Councilman Terry Garner of Hanna said at the public hearing this week in Union Mills, "I will never sell my soul to the devil." That comment drew applause from hundreds of people, but he was pandering. As an elected official, it's his job to collect information and make a decision based on knowledge, not emotion.

La Porte County attorney Shaw Friedman says local officials should be relieved of any obligation of confidentiality about the project at this time, and we hope that leads to more information about this project, so people can be prepared to move ahead with their lives, if in fact the intermodal is coming.

Until that information is made available, there will be scant public support for a project that has the potential to be a major economic engine for the county.


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JHeath
post Aug 24 2007, 12:30 PM
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I think credit should be given where it's due...and also agree with the N-D in this instance.
Our newest commisioner, Mike Bohacek, has been very good about making information available to the public. How refreshing is it to see someone in office who seems to have no hidden agendas?
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mcstumper
post Aug 24 2007, 01:57 PM
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QUOTE(mcstumper @ Aug 23 2007, 09:40 PM) *

Realistically, how much new construction can even be done in the Kingsbury "Industrial" Plant. I once heard that much of the property was off-limits because of half buried unexploded ordinance. I guess a bulldozer rolling over a howitzer shell would get the land leveled real quick-like.

Here's the kind of stuff you'll be clearing off that property:
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/2466792

If I had to guess why CSX wants to build in Union Mills and not Kingsbury, it would be that they used to own another north-south rail line that ran through UM. The line from UM southward was sold; the line north of UM was abandoned and ripped up. It is possible that they still own a nice chunk of land north of UM that they just want to add on to. I will go to the geeky railfan forum that I lurk on and pose this to them...



Ok. Here is a response I got on the railroad forum:

My understanding is CSXT owns a large area of land next to their tracks near Wellsboro (Union Mills) and have been leasing it out to farmers all this time. I'm not sure how big or who originally owned the land. It could be from the Pere Marquette or old B&O land, I'm not sure. My understanding is that an unnamed developer is wanting to build this yard, with a partnership with CSX. I don't know if this developer owns any land of their own near here or not.

NS is proposing to build their own intermodal yard near La Porte. I'm not sure if this is a partnership also or strictly a NS project.

CSX is also looking into putting an intermodal yard in part of the old Gibson Yard in Hammond, Indiana. Rumor is that the state needs to replace the Indianapolis Boulevard bridge over the site, and CSX is trying to convince them to raise it up high enough to fit a MI Jack lift under it.

Understand also, that a lot of the "proposed" sites are probably just a smoke screen to draw attention away from the sites they really want. They might not even be anywhere near NW Indiana.






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mcstumper
post Aug 24 2007, 02:11 PM
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When I think of the potential new jobs from this type of facility that might never be created, I get a little peeved. I watched some Channel 22 sob story about a farmer upset that he might get a windfall on his property so that 2-4,000 jobs can be created. WHY DO I CARE! We need an economic stimulus in this county, not pathetic, sappy reminiscing about the good old days of the family farmer. If farming is so damn important to these people, why don't they pool their windfall profits, purchase land in the Kingsbury Plant and farm it! These hypocrites in the south county act as if they give a rat's a** about the environment, but if you mention dechannelizing the Kankakee River to reclaim some of the once great Kankakee Marsh they will bite your head clean off. They care only about themselves and their simple static little lives. We need to let our elected officials know that they are either pro-growth or out of a job.



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TRAILCREEKKID
post Aug 24 2007, 06:18 PM
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QUOTE(JHeath @ Aug 24 2007, 12:57 PM) *

The issue with Kingsbury is the potential for expolsives buried underground. I wouldn't want anyone that I know to be operating the bulldozer that hits a grenade, and I'm sure others here may feel the same.

Plus, from a business standpoint, isn't it more fiscally responsible to build, or rebuild, on property you already own?


Am I to understand the Kingsbury plant was an explosives plant? Which closed when? I really don't know. In any event, we mustn't dramatize or sensationalize the "potential" of explosives being buried underground.

If Kingsbury is indeed a brownfield, it should be dealt with as such and remedied accordingly. There are protocols for converting brownfields back to profitable use, and browfields offer new business ventures many tax abatements and the such. So, there is a profit incentive for business interests to consider brownfields over undeveloped properties with no improvements yet done to them.

If however, CSX owns property that they have been leasing to farmers all these years, then these farmers are not stakeholders that have would have legal standing.
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mcstumper
post Aug 25 2007, 07:01 AM
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QUOTE(TRAILCREEKKID @ Aug 24 2007, 07:18 PM) *

I really don't know. In any event, we mustn't dramatize or sensationalize the "potential" of explosives being buried underground.


What?! No dramtization or sensationalization??? If you look at the video clips of the NIMBY meeting in Union Mills, that was about all you got. The pro-common sense & growth crowd will have to fight fire with fire.

Do I know for certain that there are tons of unexploded ordinance buried there. No, of course not. Growing up outside LaPorte meant I heard many storied (legends). But the point is, the NIMBY crowd has cast CSX in a negative light by accusing them of not bothering to investigate the KOP site. No one has made the counterpoint that they are just as likely to have investigated it and found it doesn't meet their needs.



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Southsider2k12
post Aug 27 2007, 12:43 PM
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http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=53103.69

QUOTE
Watch Politicians On Intermodal
Thank you for running my Viewpoint last Friday ["Intermodal key for county". I also appreciate your editorial ["Locating business," Aug. 14]. The reason I wrote the column last week is because we have local politicians who stand before voters in Michigan City and tell them that they're for jobs and development and when they go Union Mills that they're against development.

Tuesday night in Union Mills was a prime example. Jim Arnold, Tom Dermody, Jerry Cooley, Bill Hager and Earl Cunningham stood up in front of the people in Union Mills and didn't tell them they were in favor of the project, while Ken Layton and Terry Garner told the people they were against the development project. You can't let these people walk the fence. Ken Layton, who will be running for commissioner, will continue to tell people in Michigan City that he's for jobs and development. Please don't let him have it both ways. Force the issue: Are you for jobs and growth or are you against? This is the problem with La Porte County and is what holds it back!

Scott Ford, Secretary

La Porte County Redevelopment Commission
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Southsider2k12
post Aug 27 2007, 12:45 PM
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http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=53103.69

QUOTE
Kingsbury Industrial Park Best Site
I have just finished reading the letter by Scott Ford Thursday [ "Watch politicians on intermodal"]. I must admit that I have some differences with it. First, I personally know Scott and his entire family and have on more than one occasion called them all friends and quite frankly still do. I also belong to the Michigan City Exchange Club along with Scott. Having said that, I will address his letter.

Scott wrote that I stood up in front of the citizens in Union Mills and denounced the intermodal project. That is untrue. I did stand up in front of the citizens and told them that I had been approached by real estate brokers about selling our farm and refused them. Never once did I even mention the project itself.

I have stated, publicly, that I am not opposed to the project itself, just the location. I have, more than once, publicly suggested the Kingsbury Industrial Park as a site. The KIP has everything necessary, rail, roads, water, sewer and power. There are no residences to level. No town to destroy. Furthermore, the KIP is closer to my home than Union Mills.

It was learned by many at Monday night's meeting, myself included, that the railroad will be expanding the number of lines on one section of track from two lines to eight lines. This rail goes right through the middle of the Union Mills community. Is it right, just for the sake of "jobs," to completely disrupt the lives of hundreds of people? I think not. I think the "jobs" that the intermodal project could bring with it would be a major boon to La Porte County and the surrounding area. I find fault the with the proposed location, not the project itself.

As for standing on the fence, I have firmly planted my feet on the ground on this issue and every other issue that pertained to La Porte County. Who else went public about the funding of the Regional Development Authority? We couldn't afford it then and still can't. Who else went public on the proposed Illiana expressway, suggesting if it could be proven that it was needed why wasn't Indiana 49 considered. It is already a limited access four-lane highway from south of Valparaiso to north of Chesterton, with direct access to Interstate 94 and the Indiana Toll Road.

Scott, you have known me for many, many years. How can you honestly write the letter that you have? Is it politics, Scott? Certainly, I hope not. When you ran for County Council three years ago, who crossed party lines and introduced you to people across this county? I believed in you then, Scott.

Ken Layton

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JHeath
post Aug 27 2007, 02:50 PM
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This just makes me wonder if Scott Ford is also planning to run for an office.

Seems like a plot against the potential candidacy of Mr Layton.
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