Press release by City of La Porte:

The City of La Porte recently received results from an independent study regarding the status of water infrastructure within the 39 North Conservancy District, according to Mayor Tom Dermody.

NIES Engineering, a regional firm, performed the study and found that fire flow within the district is limited to a single fire hydrant, and that fire flow capacity is inadequate for a large industrial fire. NIES identified and proposed three infrastructure improvements to remedy this situation, with estimated costs totaling more than $10.5 million. La Porte Water Superintendent Tim Werner said these findings confirm the severity of this situation.

“The results from this study have proven what we at the city already knew to be true – that the district’s industrial fire protection needs have far exceeded the system’s capabilities,” Werner said. “Not only does this create a safety risk and a nuisance for existing residents of 39 North, but it also means new development and growth is impossible given the insufficiency of 39 North’s current infrastructure system.”

Fire Chief Andy Snyder said the safety risk created by the inadequate system is enough cause for concern.

“A fire department being limited to a single fire hydrant is a big deal,” Snyder said. “In a situation where seconds matter, the very last thing you want your first responders to be thinking about is whether they will have enough water to extinguish a fire at your home or business. The improvements recommended by NIES Engineering are not merely suggestions – they are a must to resolve this safety risk.”

Dermody said the city has offered to share the findings of this study with the president of the conservancy at no cost in order to help facilitate a solution in a timely fashion. He said time is of the essence.

“Unfortunately, this problem has been ignored for far too long, making urgent action necessary,” Dermody said. “The city is willing to lead in this situation and take on these improvements, but we cannot make an investment of this capacity for nonresidents. The residents of 39 North should not have to foot the bill for mistakes of the past, and we are hopeful that we can all come to the table and gain support for the commonsense solution that the city has proposed.”

Dermody said money is currently available for grants that would allow the city to cover some of these expenses. However, he said the city has other projects to fund throughout the community, making May 31 the cutoff date for the city’s ability to help 39 North and its residents.

“We have the opportunity to solve this problem right now,” Dermody said. “Why wait for something to happen? The time to act is now.”

Those seeking more detailed information are encouraged to attend the upcoming public information meetings at the La Porte Civic Auditorium. The sessions will take place on:

  • Thursday, April 27 at 6 p.m.;
  • Wednesday, May 3 at noon; and
  • Thursday, May 4 at 6 p.m.

39 North residents with questions or interest in signing the petition for annexation before the May 31 deadline may contact the mayor’s office at 219-362-0151.