Chesterton Tribune



Grant money approved for Brincka-Cross; Council discusses Aukiki Park

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The Porter County Parks Department will use the $58,125 received in grant money, from the Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program and the Bicentennial Nature Trust, to purchase 15 additional acres on the west side of Brinkca-Cross Gardens County Park.

Besides the grant, $7,750 from the Park’s non-reverting fund will be put towards the acquisition as part of its match for the grant.

The County Council approved allocating the grant money in the new fund created by the Board of Commissioners by ordinance. First reading for that ordinance garnered a 2-1 vote from the Commissioners with Jim Biggs, R-North, voting against the measure, expressing a concern that the Parks Department is acquiring more land than it can afford to maintain.

The new acquisition would give the parks department the chance to develop a parking area for Brincka-Cross, according to Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos, which is something that the park has been lacking. The other portions will be used for passive recreation with use restricted under terms of the grant.

No one from the Council stated concerns about the acquisition, nor did Lenckos speak about increased funding for parks, but the request did prompt a discussion on how the department is progressing with another property, Aukiki Park at 650 S and Ind. 49, in Pleasant Twp.

“Anything happening on that south county park?” Council member Dan Whitten, D-at large, asked Lenckos.

Currently the department is waiting for a plan from the Town of Kouts on a location for a well head, Lenckos replied. Their engineering firm is determining, with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the proper placement and how much land will be required. Lenckos said the well head was eyed for the south end but now is proposed in the north to allow better access to a maintenance building that would be accessible from CR 650 S.

When that is known, the Town will negotiate the terms with the County Park Board, Lenckos said. The next step would be to “solidify” the partnership with East Porter County Schools which is supportive of developing sports fields for both Kouts and Morgan Twp. schools.

“Once we define those relationships, we can determine what the balance is to complete phase one. It would be up to the Council and the Commissioners to decide if we move forward,” said Lenckos.

The initial estimates for phase one by the Duneland Group engineering firm were close to $3 million. That would cover the costs of parking lots, seeding and utilities, Lenckos said.

Council member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, asked that if the phases are developed, would the County have the funding and the manpower required to maintain the 63.5-acre park parcel. Lenckos said the degree of management would be a factor in that.

“You could be talking $2,000 or $3,000 an acre per year to $6,000 or $8,000 an acre depending on the types of fields and how you run them,” Lenckos said.

Council member Sylvia Graham, D-at large, asked if the sports fields could support themselves from generated revenue. Lenckos said the only models of self-supporting fields are those that would be completely focused on hosting tournaments and bigger weekend events. The recent survey done for the Park Department’s showed that residents were not highly in favor of those purposes, but preferred to have Aukiki Park be developed for children in the county to have a place to play, as well as some passive use areas.

“This is because we don’t have enough fields in the county for our own kids to play on,” he said.

The Park Board last April voted 6-0 in favor of pursing funding from the County Council for Aukiki Park after the Council asked the Board to decide between it and the education center at Sunset Hill Farm as the next priority.

The Council then said there isn’t enough money on hand to support both projects.

In addition to the grant funds, the Council Tuesday also approved the department’s request to transfer $14,500 for summer camp field trip expenses and allocate $7,500 from the National Association of Realtors grant to complete the community needs assessment survey.


Meanwhile, the County’s Department of Development and Stormwater Management won approval to hire part-time college interns this summer to do field work and work with the GIS system.

Department Director Robert Thompson said the highway office once had internships about 20 years ago when he was working as the assistant engineer.

A team of interns would do similar work as before by mapping structures underneath roads, collecting data and recording those on paper.

Another intern will put the information into the GIS system. Thompson said the goal is to have the information available on the maps by the end of the summer.

Thompson said the interns sought will be engineering students. The positions were approved at up to $12 per hour.



Posted 3/2/2017




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