Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Porter County parks getting two $300,000 donations

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The “gem” of the Porter County Parks system, Brinkca-Cross Gardens, will nearly triple in size by the end of the year when the parks department closes on acquisition of a 46-acre parcel due north of the existing property.

At last week’s Park and Recreation board meeting, Superintendent Walter Lenckos told the board a private donor has made a contribution of $300,000 to purchase the land.

Lenckos said there are no plans for development for the added property yet other than environmental conservation. He said he will consider discussing usage and master planning later, but not until his department closes on the sale.

The new parcel is essentially all woodlands as much of the park is already, Lenckos said.

Also, the department was successful in landing a matching recreation trails grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for approximately $150,000 for building new trails at Brincka-Cross Gardens. The department provided a 20 percent match for the enhancement grant.

Lenckos said the money is good for building about mile of trails that will be enough to build around the garden areas which sit on four acres but will not enough to extend trails all the way through the current 21 acres of surrounding woodlands.

The Department earlier had received 10 proposals for the trail systems this summer. Lenckos hopes to have a contractor soon and work is to be completed when the park opens for its spring 2014 season.

Lenckos also said renovations to the parking area have been completed and staff have put more directional signage to the park along U.S. 20.

“It’s easy to get to, it’s easy to find, and it’s easy to park,” Lenckos said.

Brincka-Cross Gardens is located at 427 East Furness Rd. in Pine Twp. and opened to the public in April 2010. The gardens are home to 400 different types of hostas, 450 varieties of daffodils, 40 cultivars of ornamental grasses and a number of crab apple trees, magnolias, and forsythias.

Meanwhile, Lenckos had mentioned during the September board meeting that the family of founding park board president Art Willing were considering a donation toward the Raise the Barn project at Sunset Hill Farm which would be a “game-changer” toward its development.

Lenckos said he is pleased to announce that the family has formally made a donation in the amount of $300,000.

The board has decided it will name the planned outdoor education classroom in memory of Art Willing, Lenckos said. Willing had taught at River Forest School in Hobart for almost 30 years and played a key role in developing Sunset Hill Farm as a park.

Parks Board attorney David Hollenbeck said he commends the “incredible high works” of the department, securing the $600,000 in donations and the $150,000 grant money, bringing some savings to the taxpayers.

 

Posted 10/7/2013