Where can a 40’
wide by 125’ model train display and storage building fit in Sunset Hill
Farm County Park?
Given the area of
open space at the park, the task may sound easy but it proved to be quite
the opposite at Thursday’s Porter County Park Board meeting.
“It’s hard to
visualize with all the slopes, drainage and swales,” said County Park Board
member Craig Kenworthy.
The board was
approached in November by the Illiana Garden Railway Society about the park
hosting its model railroad and town, formerly displayed at Samuelson’s
Nursery in Washington Twp., which closed last year.
David Ransem said the tracks total 1,100 feet in length and the model town
of Franville includes a saw mill, farm, engine supply yard, baseball diamond
and a lake. The Society would operate the scene on Saturdays, May through
September. The track is permanent, but the model buildings and trains would
be stored during the off season in a 20’ x 20’ storage shed.
The board had
questions about where the display would best fit near the park’s parking
areas. At Thursday’s meeting, Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos said the
County’s GIS Department gave him a way to show a 40’ x 125’ polygon that
could be moved on a map.
Nearly every spot
the board tried to place the rectangle around the parking lot and
maintenance buildings, an obstacle presented itself. The board wants to be
out of the way of the Education Center, proposed to be built between the
parking lot and the interpretive building. Drainage proved to be a challenge
in the areas open around the sheds and maintenance buildings.
“It’s a real soft
area there,” said Board President Richard Hudson. Maintenance worker Jack
Kashak agreed that if it rains for more than a few days, there will be
standing water in those areas.
were ruled out, such as the saw mill, for obvious reasons, and the area next
to the front gate, which is needed for the events and festivals the parks
hold throughout the year. The pond and prairie areas are also undergoing
At the end of the
discussion, the board felt there might be a chance to put the display where
the animals are housed now. Lenckos said the department plans to eventually
move the animals over to where the campground area is, which is used by the
Northern Indiana Historical Power Association.
is an issue, Lenckos said a plan could be worked out to modify how the park
directs its drainage.
In other business:
-- Lenckos said
there will be a Master Plan Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 13, at 6 p.m.
The committee will work on the existing draft plan. The plan will talk about
the parks’ benchmarks with other counties and create a list of action items
for the next five years, he said.
Communications Director Darlene Cohn has assisted the Porter County Parks
Foundation in launching a new website at
The site gives details about the Foundation’s past and its future
objectives. Lenckos said the Foundation will also soon publish its first
newsletter in years.
-- The board agreed
to keep the same committees as the previous year. Those include Land
Acquisition and Development, Communications and Marketing, Sunset Hill
Education Center, Sunset Hill Trails Development, Aukiki Park and Budgets
-- The board
approved an amendment to the animals plan at Sunset Hill Farm. For this
year, the parks plan to acquire just three female sheep.
-- Board member
David Canright thanked Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors
Commission Board President Mitch Peters for speaking in support of
purchasing additional acreage at Brincka-Cross Gardens during the public
hearing to create a fund for the grant at Tuesday’s County Commissioner
meeting. Peters had said the acquisition is important because parking space
is needed at the park.
-- Prior to the
board meeting, the Parks Department held a reception for its volunteers in
the rotunda at the County Administration Building. Lenckos thanked the
“hundreds of individuals and groups” that have given their time and support.
“The staff and I wouldn’t be able to do what we do without you.”