26 Jan 2017

West Lake line development meetings set

South Shore News

The proposed West Lake Corridor could do more than expand the South Shore Line's commuter service. Planners believe it also would prompt new development – including housing, shopping and leisure -- around the four proposed rail stations on West Lake's route from Hammond to Dyer.

 People who live along the West Lake route will have two chances in February to see and comment on proposed transit-oriented developments there.

                 Tuesday, Feb. 14, 6-8 p.m., at Centennial Park, 1005 S. Centennial Drive, Munster, for the proposed
                  stations in Munster and on the Munster/Dyer border.

                 Thursday, Feb. 16, 6-8 p.m., at Kenwood Elementary School, 6415 Hohman Ave., Hammond, for the
                  proposed South Hammond and Gateway stations in Hammond.

The workshop meetings are sponsored by the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, which received an Indiana Economic Development Commission grant for the project. Farr Associates, a Chicago-based planning and architecture firm, will facilitate the meetings.

Participants at each meeting will be asked for their opinions on proposed plans for the area around two stations. At the first public meetings on West Lake transit-oriented development last October, participants indicated their preferences for a variety of development options for each station. Doug Farr, of Farr Associates, said then that, based on past experience, housing value near the stations would increase after the new rail service begins.

The workshops will not deal with the West Lake rail extension itself, which was the subject of three recent hearings on the project's draft environmental impact statement. While some property will be acquired for the rail extension if federal funding is approved, property acquisition is not part of the transit-oriented development (TOD) process.

Dyer residents learn about West Lake rail project

"No one's house will be taken for TOD," Farr said in October. Development near the South Shore Line – on the existing corridor as well as the West Lake extension -- would benefit if the Indiana General Assembly passes legislation proposed by State Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville. House Bill 1144 would create a district to capture new sales tax revenue within a half-mile of the South Shore Line. Half of that money would be used for economic development in that district; the rest would go to the state. Slager's bill has not yet had a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Article by Tim Zorn - freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune. Click here to see the article on Chicago Tribune.