programs and field trips, life at the Porter County Parks and Recreation
Department is getting busier by the day.
That is why Parks
Superintendent Walter Lenckos hopes to move the office coordinator position
to full-time in 2017.
But it will not
affect the County’s tax-levied general fund since the position, with a
$30,000 yearly salary and a benefits package, can be sustained by the Parks’
non-reverting fund, Lenckos told the County Park Board at its meeting
for 2017 are expected to be due to the County Council by July. The board
decided to wait until next month before signing off on what Lenckos
presented, in case the Council makes requests to departments on adjusting
budgets as it did two years ago when they were asked to reduce totals by 10
“I’d say wait until
next month to see what might be on the chopping block, or the increasing
block. Who knows?” said board member Annetta Jones.
Lenckos said when
he became superintendent six years ago the office coordinator position had
moved to part time and set at 29 hours a week, but the person is now needed
for 35-40 hours each week. “As we grow, our song has changed,” he said.
Duties include keeping communication moving within the department,
registrations and making sure vendors are paid, he said.
programming are growing in the budget but some items have decreased, Lenckos
said, such as water utilities.
Board member Craig
Kenworthy questioned the costs for programs like $4,000 budgeted for the 50k
day event at Sunset Hill Farm. Lenckos explained that for those events, the
parks require the event sponsors to submit a cost recovery sheet so as not
to burden the parks department.
Board member Drew
Armstrong commended Lenckos for the work preparing the budget.
“Thank you. This is
critical. This is a really important junction for us,” Lenckos said.
In his staff
report, Lenckos announced that yet more grants are coming in for projects at
Sunset Hill Farm. Praxair doubled its grant of $5,000 to $10,000 for sensory
plants for the garden at the natural children’s playground.
Another grant for
$5,000 was given for the pond and prairie restoration project. Lenckos said
the money will be used to remove more invasive species and replace them with
Lenckos also said
that the Valparaiso University Engineering Club has chosen to do a project
for the playground. The club will be constructing a concrete canoe.
“It’s going to last
a long time and will be a part of our park,” Lenckos said, who said the
canoe will be fairly lightweight. “It’s not a racing canoe. It’s going to be
used for jumping and playing on.”
received another grant from the National Association of Realtors. Last
month, Lenckos announced the organization granted $2,500 for musical
instruments at the playground. Now it will grant $15,000 for the
constituents needs assessment for the updated parks master plan due later
department was not awarded a competitive grant from the Indiana Lake
Michigan Coastal Program for the Hawk Ridge Natural Area in Pine Twp.,
Lenkcos said, but another grant opportunity is being sought from the
Environmental Protection Agency.
Spring Out, camps,
In Sunset Hill
Farms news, Spring Out to Sunset will be Saturday, May 21, Lenkcos said,
with a host of activities for families from 12 to 4 p.m. The Sunset Hill
Colonels Vintage Baseball Team will play a game at 1 p.m. The popular
Homebrew Competition held with the event starts at 10 a.m. Admission is $5
registrations are going strong this year and through the Porter County Parks
Foundation, the camps will be offering free or reduced lunches for
qualifying families, Lenckos said.
continue at Sunset Hill. Lenckos said the trails will be marked for wagons
and pedestrians. This will help the Northern Indiana Historical Power
Association which gives wagon rides at a few park events know where to
travel without worrying about causing damage to the trails used by walkers
and cross country teams, he said.
History of Baseball
Lenckos invited the
board members to learn about the history of baseball in Porter County at the
Porter County Museum on May 19 at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at Figure 8
Brewing in Valparaiso where proceeds go to the parks whenever diners buy a
“Where Lizards Dare” beverage. Through June, the restaurant will donate 25
cents each time the drink is purchased.
Both events are
open to the general public, Lenckos said.
On the agenda were
discussions of the two lease agreements at Sunset Hill between the Park
Board, the Parks Foundation and NIHPA. Those matters were tabled however as
board attorney David Hollenbeck said he has been not been able to work on
them due to the death of a relative. He said he intends to get the leases
ready in the next few days.
In other matters,
Lenckos said the Parks Foundation will soon have an updated logo. It will
give the Foundation more distinction from the County Parks Department and
reduce confusion, he said.
The department also
received notice from NIPSCO that it will possibly be replacing an existing
22-inch pipeline with a 24-inch pipeline in its easement which crosses the
former prison property owned by the department in Pine Twp. Work will not
begin until the next year or so, but soil borings are expected soon.