Chester Inc., Tony Peuquet and Laura Small, presented a proposed concept
site plan for a new building at Sunset Hill Farm that will look like a metal
grain bin to the Porter County Park Board on Thursday.
The building would
be used for education but will not replace the “Raise-the-Barn” Education
Center that has been planned for well over a decade. The Park Board in July
reached a consensus to move forward with a small building until the funding
is there for the larger center to be built.
At that July
meeting, Park Board member Craig Kenworthy said the Park’s Building
Committee had met to discuss the $375,000 raised for Sunset Hill Farm
buildings, $175,000 of which includes donations collected by the Porter
County Parks Foundation. Kenworthy said the Foundation would like to see
some building constructed that could offer programs at the park rather than
continuing to wait for support from the County Commissioners and Council for
the Raise the Barn Center.
Peuquet said the
grain bin building, which will have galvanized steel, will be designed to
“bridge the gap” between an educational center like Raise the Barn and will
focus on traditional methods of farming and new agricultural methods.
Small said the
building would be circular with about a 50-foot diameter. Inside would be a
small kitchenette and stairs along the south side that would lead up to a
mechanical mezzanine to house the heating equipment for the facility. It
could also have a skylight, she and Peuquet said, and sprayfoam installation
on the ceiling.
“We thought it was
kind of a fun way to incorporate the idea of architecture into a building
that is usually used for agriculture,” Small said.
plans show that the building would be attached to a second structure that
would house new public restrooms for park visitors. Small said Chester Inc.
recommends giving the bathrooms a “rustic” look with a metal roof. Both
buildings would have handicap access.
Small said they
think the best location for the building would be between the main parking
lot and the existing program center building. Chester Inc.’s concept site
plan also suggests building on to the parking lot in a circular fashion.
Peuquet said the
architects will take comments and suggestions from the board over the next
month and discuss any with the Parks’ building committee. He and Small will
also attend the next Park Foundation meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 6
p.m. at the Porter County Community Foundation building, said Parks
Superintendent Walter Lenckos.
Lenckos thanked the
Building Committee for their work as well as input from Kenworthy, Park
Board President Rich Hudson and member Drew Armstrong, County Commissioner
Jim Biggs, County Council President Mike Jessen, County Building
Commissioner Mike Haller and veterinarian Dr. Larry McAfee.
Lenckos said the
cost estimates for the building are still being developed. If there is a gap
between the cost and the funds on-hand, Lenckos said the Parks Department
plans to fundraise to meet the costs.