Chesterton Tribune



Board tries again to buy land for park in South Porter County

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An effort to acquire property for an active Porter County park in the southern half of the county fell through last spring but it appears a new attempt shows more promise for acquisition of land.

After meeting in closed executive session to discuss the possible purchase, five members of the County Parks and Recreation Board unanimously approved their attorney David Hollenbeck’s recommendation to ask the County Council at their upcoming meeting to approve its share of county income tax funding toward the purchase of a parcel of land somewhere in southern Porter County.

Hollenbeck said contingent on the Council’s approval, he will ask the board at its December meeting to make an offer to purchase the property and reveal the location publicly, but right now the matter is being dealt with privately with the owner.

In a separate acquisition matter, the board gave Hollenbeck authorization to proceed with an offer to purchase an additional 46 acres to expand Brincka-Cross Gardens Park in Pine Twp., for an amount not to exceed $309,000.

Hollenbeck said the acquisition is “the Smith property” located directly north of the current park property.

Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos said that a private donor made a contribution of “about $300,000” toward the purchase of the land and as of now still wishes to be unidentified.

While no official plans have been made for usage of the additional land, the new parcel is specifically woodlands, like much of the existing park.

Bird sanctuary

Also on Thursday, Porter County Parks Foundation members Tim Cole and Richard Maxey, who are leading a committee to set up a wildlife and bird migratory sanctuary within the Chesterton town limits, presented maps and plans to the board.

The men said the Foundation will be partnering with environmental groups like the Shirley Heinze Land Trust to develop the property and then turn it over to the county park board if they want it or to an environmental group that would keep up with the maintenance.

Cole said the Foundation has owned a 19 acre parcel in the middle of a wetland along Meridian Rd./11th St., across from the west side of Westchester Intermediate School, for about 13 years now after it was given to them by the Duneland YMCA.

The Foundation two weeks ago acquired an adjoining 20 acres and will begin to use weirs and adjustable dams to raise the water table a few inches to attract migratory and shore birds, Cole said. Berms will also be built to protect neighboring properties from flooding and drainage.

Using statistics from local bird expert and author Ken Brock, Cole said that the Foundation could create a controlled shore bird habitat that would be unique to Indiana and open up the possibility to receive a multitude of grants.


Posted 11/8/2013