County Home may be used as housing for homeless

July 26, 2018 GMT

La PORTE — County Attorney Shaw Friedman confirmed that the UP Development would not be going forward with a third application to the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA).

“They indicated they appreciate the level of support, but the state requires numerous steps and pre-submittal documents that have passed, so they’re not able to get the application in by July 31,” said Friedman.

The County Council clarified there was no previous commitment of money to the UP Development, only support for the IHCDA application itself. With the IHCDA application no longer an option for the County Home, the joint proposal between The Home Team and Housing Opportunities will proceed with their plan to use the County Home as housing for the homeless, including homeless veterans.

Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski spoke on behalf of The Home Team to explain their next steps. Pierzakowski said they have meetings with IHCDA and the La Porte Healthcare Foundation later this week to discuss grant funding. Pierzakowski had previously said they would require $100,000, secured through grants, to begin work.

Pierzakowski estimated they could begin renovation as soon as 60 days after securing the $100,000 grant. Specific renovation would include general clean up of the main floor and updates to the bathrooms. According to Pierzakowski, it would take $1.2 to $1.6 million to get the first floor up and running, a fraction of the $9-10 million a full remodel into individual apartments would have required.

The council emphasized urgency regarding Pierzakowski’s plans for the County Home.

“The condition of the home is not getting any better, that’s our concern,” said Council President Randall Novak.

Councilman Mark Yagelski reminded the council that an auction and sale of the County Home is still a final option.

“This thing can’t go on forever, we have to make the decision,” Yagelski said.

In other news, Councilman Mike Mollenhauer reported the Zigler Road project is going well. Larson-Danielson Construction was awarded a contract in the amount of $1,063,000 to construct the building for a recycling site there.

Councilman John Sullivan reported on his attendance of the South County Community Coalition. Sullivan said ideas for starting a transportation system for the south end of the county were discussed.

Councilman Jeff Santana praised members of La Porte County Emergency Management and the La Crosse Fire Chief Aaron Rust for their handling of a water problem in La Crosse over the weekend.

La Porte County Prosecutor John. M. Espar announced they have received grant funding to hire an additional Victim Advocate, which would bring the number to three. The funding does require an 80/20 grant match.

Espar requested the $67,072.00 grant match come from the General (1000) fund, Riverboat (1191) or WinTax (4220). Yagelski suggested that the money for the grant match could come from the prosecutor’s discretionary fund. Espar acknowledged it could, but requested the prosecutor’s fund be left for other uses.

“My request is that it not be funded out of the infraction referral fund. There are others uses for which, although that’s not an illegal use, there are other uses for which those monies are more appropriate.”

Motion was made by Yagelski and seconded by Mollenhauer that the grant match come from the prosecutor’s funds. This motion, as well as the motion for approval to hire a third Victim Advocate, will be heard at the next meeting.

A public hearing was held for confirmatory resolution for tax abatement for personal property of OTECH Corporation, and for both personal and real property for Sammann, Inc. All three resolutions were approved unanimously.

La Porte County Commissioners requested and was approved for additional appropriation from Riverboat, WinTax or General Fund in the amount of $125,000 for the Office of Economic Development.

The La Porte County Sheriff’s Department’s request for an additional appropriation of $67,500.00 in overtime expense from the Riverboat, WinTax or General Fund was approved.

The council also approved a request for $150,000 in additional appropriation from the Motor Vehicle Highway fund by the La Porte County Highway Department for fuel.