Chesterton Tribune



Model railroaders get more space at Sunset Hill Farm Park

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The Porter County Park Board agreed to give the Illiana Garden Railway Society some extra space for its model railroad display at its meeting Thursday night.

IGRS asked for a 40’ x 80’ plot of space last spring, and later the estimate went up to 50’ x 100’. The location: the grassy area west of the old restrooms along the road that leads to the amphitheater between Redbud Trail and the pond.

IGRS has decided to make some changes that require more space, including a five-foot sidewalk around the display and a 12’ x 32’ building for storage, IGRS President David Ransom said. Ransom also noted that the organization may want to have space for picnic tables or expansion in the future.

The new design calls for a 64’ x 104’ space. Ransom says the buildings they’re looking at are prebuilt, barn-shaped cabins, and the display will be surrounded by a six-foot high fence to keep out deer. However, it won’t be a privacy fence, and visitors to the park and drivers passing by on the road will be able to see the display, which has about 1,100 feet of track that circulates in a rough oval around a model town called Franville. There is an engine supply yard at the north end of the tracks, and Ransom says the plans now include a track for G-scale live steam model engines. The group has a couple of “live steamers,” members who use live steam models rather than electric engines, and Ransom said he hopes more will join.

Board President Craig Kenworthy, for his part, said there’s no harm in allowing IGRS to use the extra space because it doesn’t amount to much, but he asked that Ransom continually update the Board about changes in the design.

Staff Report

After the Park Department’s communications director resigned last month, Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos reported that he has reevaluated the demands of that position. “I think its always good to a reevaluate when someone leaves,” Lenckos said.

Lenckos, with the help of the County’s new HR Director Heather Shearer, came up with a proposal to split the full-time communications director position into two part-time positions--one to focus on events and rentals and one to focus on public relations. Some aspects of the position will move to the office coordinator. Lenckos said meetings with the budget and personnel committee, Shearer’s advice, and his own experience had roles in the decision. The part-time people will work up to 29 hours a week and be paid up to $15 an hour. No additional money is needed to fund the change, but the part-time people will be paid out of the non-reverting fund rather than the General Fund.

The Board approved the changes to the budget and the job descriptions. The vote was unanimous with members Annetta Jones and Chris Richardson absent.

Upcoming Events

Meet the animals at Sunset Hill Farm Park will be Saturday, April 7, starting at 10 a.m. The Northwest Indiana Historical Power Association will be hosting a corn shelling activity.

Summer camp is filling up fast. “If folks are looking to make sure their kids get in our summer camp, call or go on the website to secure those spots,” Lenckos said. He reported the camp is about two-thirds full.

Other Business

In other Park Board business, Lenckos said he is applying for funding through NIPSCO’s environmental action grants. He plans for the money, if awarded, to go toward shining up the east side of the pond at Sunset Hill by removing invasive plants and replacing them with native ones. He said such a project would tie in with the signage updates that are in progress.

Michael Sawyier came before the Board on behalf of the newly formed Northwest Indiana Croquet Association. Sawyier said the group has its eye on some space at Sunset Hill and would like to give a presentation about constructing a four-court complex that could house championship croquet games. “We could bring full-fledged national competitions here and really have a lot of fun,” Sawyier said.

The group will present at the Park Board’s next meeting, Thursday, May 3.


Posted 4/6/2018




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