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