Lenckos gave the
board a 20-minute overview of what the committee learned during the
development of the plan, starting by echoing a few findings brought forward
in last year’s community survey done by Ron Vine and Associates.
“Trails were far
and away the thing that people are most interested in. They like hiking,
biking, running, jogging and dog walking. The second thing they were most
interested in was anything related to water,” Lenckos said.
The survey also
indicated a desire for programming that catered to younger people and those
over the age of 55, which are two growing demographics in the county,
Lenckos said. He said that there were many responses received for the parks
to work on environmental protection of wetlands and woodlands.
“People see us as a
way to acquire land to make sure stormwater is managed well,” he said. “Out
of our fourteen actions that our agency can improve on, providing
environmental protections was ranked the most important.”
The plan includes a
new facilities location map that lines up with the intersections of existent
and developing trails like the American Discovery Trail, the Dunes-Kankakee
Trail, the Winfield Corridor and the Porter Corridor. Transportation is a
key factor for growth and the corridors are what the committee recommends be
considered for possible facility locations, Lenckos said.
The map shows the
majority of these locations in Morgan, Pleasant, Porter and Boone townships.
Lenckos said the committee is not recommending any new growth in the
northern section of the county at this time.
One section of the
plan includes implementing ADA compliant and universal design features at
its facilities, making them more accessible for all residents. Examples
include ramps and handrails at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, ADA compliant
picnic tables and written materials for visually impaired persons.
Lenckos said those
kinds of features will be budgeted for in 2018 with the facility upgrades
that are going to be undertaken by the County Board of Commissioners.
In its listed goals
for the next five years, the committee has included:
-- Increase the
frequency of usage at Sunset Hill Farm.
-- Identify ways to
improve Calumet Trail.
-- Having at least
50 percent of households indicate they are “very satisfied” with the
condition of the County Parks in the next needs survey
development of additional festivals at Sunset Hill Farm.
-- Develop indoor
environmental education center at Sunset Hill Farm by the end of 2020.
-- Develop Aukiki
Park and future facilities with the goal of balancing active and passive
communicate the importance of funding Park and Recreation to key
-- Identify new
methods of cross-promoting activities at existing festivals and events.
connections from Sunset Hill Farm to both Chesterton and Valparaiso via
-- Protect natural
area corridors, historical attributes and wildlife habitats.
-- Improve and
secure financial sustainability.
Lenckos said he
will present the plan to the County Commissioners, County Council, Tourism
Board and local communities. He told the board he also wants to start
talking about 2018 priorities in the next few months so he can include those
in the department’s budget which is due to the County Council in July.
Rich Hudson and Vice-President Craig Kenworthy gave their complements to all
who worked on the plan
“This is the second
one I’ve looked at and you guys did an excellent job,” said Kenworthy.
“We’d like to move
ahead with our department, our staff and everything else,” said Hudson.
Absent from the
meeting was board member Annetta Jones.
RR display at
Sunset Hill Farm
In other actions
Thursday, the board voted 5-0 to commit to having the Illiana Railway Garden
Society at Sunset Hill Farm. The board has had discussions with the
organization’s leaders but has not yet decided the best location for the
Board member David
Canright, who made the motion, said he would like members of the Northern
Indiana Historical Power Association, which uses the grounds to store
antique farm equipment, to be included in discussions on the location.
Also, Porter County
Parks Foundation President David Nevill said three large donations have been
collected for the construction of two new cabins at the Sunset Hill Farm