The Porter County
Park Board debated a hands-off approach to the grain bin education center
build at its meeting last night.
Craig Kenworthy started the discussion by posing the question of when the
Board should be notified about unexpected costs and how involved it should
be in the build process. “If you’ve ever built anything at home, you know
there are things that come up that are basically unforeseeable,” Kenworthy
said. “At what economic point do we feel that we need to be involved?”
The new grain bin
education center at Sunset Hill Farm Park is coming together with designs
from Chester Inc., approved by the Board in June. The Board has been
primarily working with Tony Peuquet from Chester on the silo-shaped
structure that will provide a new facility for the Park Department’s
educational programs and summer camps. The project has been funded entirely
from donations, grant money, and fundraising, using no taxpayer dollars.
Vice-president Rich Hudson brought up the project timeline. The Board hopes
to have the building up within three months. Hudson noted that involving the
Board in every unexpected cost could mean a lot of special meetings that
could come with schedule conflicts.
Board member Drew
Armstrong made a reminder that these concerns are in the building and
maintenance committee’s sphere. “The building committee met for well over a
year discussing this project and coming up with this plan. Tony and his
group are very knowledgeable and experienced. They were chosen because we
trust them,” he said. “I want to keep the ball rolling. Some decisions are
just simple enough to be made by the general contractor.”
The building and
maintenance committee, as all Board committees, is staffed with a
combination of board members and members of the public or other
stakeholders, such as members of the nonprofit groups that use Sunset Hill.
said, “We’ve got to remember we’ve got a lot of eyes on this thing,” noting
that state grant money is funding work on the restrooms for the building,
and as such, state officials can inspect it at any point in construction.
“I want to avoid
any bickering about what they call the gingerbread, the amenities. I want
this building built,” Armstrong added.
Hudson noted that
the budget for the project is done and Chester has factored in for
unexpected costs. “We’ve already budgeted a dollar amount. We have the base
bid plus a contingency amount,” Hudson said. “That contingency is built in
to take care of things like that, to take care of the unknowns.”
his question of when the Board should get involved. “If something comes
along that’s gonna be a $5,000 add or a $2,000 add, where would that
Board member David
Canright weighed in, specifically on having a Board representative oversee
the project. Canright said, though it’s a reasonable suggestion, the
decision to add another set of eyes to the process should be from the
building and maintenance committee.
Kenworthy asked if
all the Board members were comfortable with having Park Superintendent
Walter Lenckos in contact with Chester Inc. and not designating a
representative of the Board to liaise. The Board agreed that the project
should be managed as is as long as it doesn’t exceed the budget.
Lenckos assured the
Board he will notify them about any unexpected expenses that crop up.
Day of Caring
Today is the United
Way Day of Caring, and volunteers will be at Sunset Hill in the morning and
Brookdale County Park in the afternoon, Lenckos said.
The work at Sunset
Hill is funded from a NIPSCO grant. Volunteers will be helping with pond and
trail maintenance and the removal of invasive species. At Brookdale, funding
from CSX and a helping hand from the Department of Natural Resources will
provide volunteers the opportunity to assemble artificial fish habitat that
will be dropped into the fishing pond sometime next week. Floating markers
will be attached to the structures, so anglers know where they are.