Chesterton Tribune



Commissioners propose new animal shelter to be built at Sunset Hill Farm

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The ongoing task of moving the Porter County Animal Shelter to a larger, more accessible location may take off as the County Board of Commissioners announced its intentions to approach the Porter County Parks Foundation requesting that it consider donating a block of land at Sunset Hill Farm County Park to build a new shelter.

Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, said the Commissioners have been looking at possible locations for a new shelter and after discussing the matter with different groups and individuals, many agreed the best place to put it was in the middle of the county where it would be easier for people to reach.

“The bulk of people we talked to agree the shelter should be centrally located in Porter County,” said Evans.

Sunset Hill Farm, the county’s largest and oldest park, sits on 235 acres on the southeast corner of U.S. 6 and Meridian Rd., in Liberty Twp. The current Shelter is at 2056 N. 50 W. a mile south of Valparaiso near Ind. 2.

Evans said the Commissioners wish to speak with the Porter County Parks Foundation at the Foundation’s next meeting and also with Rich Hudson, president of the County Parks and Recreation Board. The park board is separate from the Foundation, a non-profit organization which helps collect donations for the parks department.

While most of the Sunset Hill Farm property is under the ownership of the County Parks and Recreation board, the Parks Foundation still retains a 15-acre parcel in the park’s northwest corner, where Meridian and U.S. 6 intersect.

County Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, said she believes it to be a good location since that intersection sees large amounts of traffic. The new shelter would be built on 3-4 acres, she estimated.

Hudson, who sat in the audience during the meeting, said he does not belong to the Foundation but fellow park board member Ruth Jarnecke has membership and serves as the park board’s liaison to the Foundation. He suggested the Commissioners attend the next park board meeting on Sept. 5 “to get things rolling” with the Foundation.

Speaking as president of the park board, Hudson said he believes relocating the shelter to Sunset Hill Farm has potential to benefit the parks by attracting more users.

“I don’t know what others would think but to me it seems like a good fit,” he told the Chesterton Tribune.

The presence of the new animal shelter could fuel plans for new amenities at Sunset Hill Farm and the Raise the Barn activity center, Hudson added.

For a while, the Commissioners had considered building the new shelter on a five-acre parcel owned by the County at the intersection of Ind. 130 and Ind. 149, anticipating a public/private partnership with Lakeshore PAWS pet rescue.

Lakeshore PAWS dropped out earlier this year to move in a different direction and the Commissioners have since taken the project on.

In April, Evans said he planned to talk to the County Council about allocating $1.5 million in hospital interest funds toward a new shelter but the Council has not yet voted on the matter.

Blaney said an anonymous donor is still willing to put forth a significant contribution towards the construction.



Posted 8/21/2013





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