Lakefront park strikes gold
The Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk site of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore received a champagne toast Tuesday afternoon for bringing in the gold.
The park site, a former Midwest Steel/U.S. Steel wastewater treatment plant, recently received the Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design award from the U.S. Green Council.
The park, owned by the National Park Service but maintained and operated by the city, was a partnership since its inception between the steel mills and local, state and federal government. Its construction was funded by the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and is considered the poster child for U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky’s Marquette Greenway Plan to reclaim 75 percent of Lake Michigan’s shoreline for recreational use.
“We in Northwest Indiana, in Portage, Indiana, can do things better than anyone else,” Visclosky said, adding projects like this will make Northwest Indiana a drawing point.
“It is an example of how if we can work together, wonderful, wonderful things can happen,” he said.
The LEED Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based standard to support and certify successful green building design, construction and operations.
Gregg Calpino, of JJR, said the project met standards by doing things such as using native vegetation; using stormwater strategies to make sure 95 percent of the stormwater created on the site stays on the site; reduces water usage by 32 percent; reduced energy usage by 33 percent; reclaimed 75 percent of the debris created by the project for recycling and 33 percent of the materials used were recycled materials.
Portage Mayor Olga Velazquez said the park was a “demonstration site” which showed what could happen if you believed and what collaboration and innovation can accomplish.