Chesterton Tribune



County Park Board sees early plans for 'grain bin' activity center at Sunset Hill Farm

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Architects from 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.

Preliminary floor 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.



Posted 9/8/2017





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