Chesterton Tribune



County Park Board nixes additional oversight in grain bin project

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The Porter County Park Board debated a hands-off approach to the grain bin education center build at its meeting last night.

Board President 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.

Board 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.

Armstrong also 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.”

Kenworthy repeated 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 threshold be?”

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.



Posted 8/10/2018




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