February 7, 2017-Munster residents are learning about Congressman Visclosky’s plan to radically transform their neighborhoods and they are not happy. At a meeting of the Munster Town Council last night, the plan to redevelop the area around a proposed West Lake Extension of the South Shore line came under attack. A packed room applauded as Munster resident Robert Stickley lambasted the council for pursuing an “unwanted change to our community life that will only benefit the on site developers . . . ”
Stickley explained that he was in favor of the West Lake Extension but that he is not in favor of the high density transit oriented development planned by NICTD. The crowd burst into applause again as Stricklin called the planning without resident input “sad and shameful.”
Town officials asked residents to not bemoan the point and repeat what had already been stated as a line of residents formed to speak on the issue. Resident after resident took to the microphone to state they agreed with Mr. Stickley and were opposed to the radical transformation plan. Harrison Avenue resident Kelly Sons presented the most moving statement when she brought her young daughters to the podium and explained that her children’s bedroom windows will face the train station parking lot. “This isn’t just about money . . .there is a human cost” Kelly explained to the Council.
Town Manager Dustin Anderson addressed a resolution put forth by residents, stating that the Town agreed with many points in the resolution and included them in their comments to NICTD’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The Town Council took the resolution under advisement, referring it to a study session to be scheduled at a later date.
Residents asked for a Resolution which included the following:
1. Should the West Lake Corridor Project go forward as contemplated:
a. Streets within a one-mile radius of each train station will be restricted to resident-only parking.
b. NICTD should increase the height of the proposed barrier from ~3 feet to 12 feet between resident properties and the proposed trackage to prevent visual intrusion and train sight lines.
c. NICTD should employ “quiet zones” through residential neighborhoods along the entire length of the rail extension, beginning at project inception and not adopted at a later date.
d. NICTD must fence all station parking lots with solid panel vinyl fencing or similar to prevent commuter trespass, and insulate and protect resident properties from commuter and vehicle presence and noise, as well as beautify the exterior with parkways and landscaping for the benefit of neighborhood residents facing the lots.
e. NICTD should provide compensation to all residents within one-quarter mile of any West Lake extension station or tracks in recompense for any decrease in property value.
2. Munster residents vehemently oppose the proposed Ridge/Manor station location, as it is unwelcome, unnecessary, incongruous with its proposed neighborhood environs, adversely impacts existing residential development, and is located within 2 miles of the proposed South Hammond station. However, should the Ridge/Manor station and parking lot go forward sited as contemplated south of Ridge Road:
a. NICTD MUST acquire all 18 houses on the block (South Street to Harrison, Harrison to Briar Lane, and along Garfield Court), rather than just the proposed 4 along South Street. This is necessary to prevent the parking lot from being placed adjacent to residents’ backyards and adversely impacting existing residential development.
b. NICTD should widen Harrison.
c. NICTD should fence the Ridge/Manor station parking lot as described in paragraph 1.d. above.
3. Munster residents oppose the acquisition of Munster’s passive open space park land on north Manor Avenue for use as an overflow parking lot for the proposed Ridge/Manor station. However, should the overflow lot go forward as contemplated:
a. The Town shall transfer no property to NICTD or RDA for less than fair market value. Any transfers of property shall be advertised on the town website for 30 days and public comment shall be received.
b. NICTD must fence the north Manor overflow parking lot as described in paragraph 1.d. above.
The Town Council previously passed two resolutions regarding the Community Estates subdivision and the placement of the station at the south end of town.