Chesterton Tribune



NIHPA asked to expand role at Sunset Hill Farm Park; BrinckaCross trails advance

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The Porter County Park Board is eager to build its relationship with the Northern Indiana Historical Power Association, proposing a bigger role for NIHPA at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

Five board members unanimously agreed Thursday to develop a new long-term agreement with the non-profit group by the time its current lease is up on June 30.

For the past 20 years or so, NIHPA has had an annual lease that allows it to store antique farm machinery at the park and hold its events there in exchange for a list of services, also known as “Exhibit B.” Interest in a multi-year agreement had been expressed about a year ago and some community members had voiced their hopes the board would continue the partnership as NIHPA has provided an educational event showing what rural life was once like.

Further enhancements to Exhibit B that were discussed in December included additional maintenance tasks such as building and roof repairs and also starting up a committee for a museum at Sunset Hill Farm.

Park Board member Craig Kenworthy recommended the board pursue a continuing commitment, having met with NIHPA members earlier in the week.

“This is a very, very positive move to get our relationship solidified for the long term,” he said.

Board president Richard Hudson expressed his approval of moving forward with a new agreement. He said this would give NIHPA a “permanent home” at Sunset Hill Farm, which he feels it deserves.

From the floor, NIHPA President Nick Misch told the board he is “greatly appreciative” for the motion as it puts his group’s concerns “at ease” about having a place at Sunset Hill Farm.

“It’s our future home to stay. Everyone (from NIHPA) is going to be thrilled,” Misch said.

Misch asked the board for the opportunity to be included in discussions on new programs and features at Sunset Hill Farm so it can help plan for those.

In other NIHPA matters, Misch said the organization will be giving wagon rides during this year’s Spring Out to Sunset event on Saturday, May 17. Also, the museum committee has been actively meeting, he said.

Brincka-Cross trails

The board held its meeting at Brincka-Cross Gardens County Park in Furnessville and was given a tour led by landscape architects of SEH Inc., Gregg Calpino and Jon Ruble, of the new 1.6 miles of trail systems around the house and gardens and in the recently acquired 46 acres.

Calpino and Ruble said they are currently in the preliminary stage of engineering and are gathering the necessary permits. They expect construction to be completed sometime next year, and proposed routes have been staked out.

The trail network is basically a series of interconnected loops, each with a different setting or theme. Concrete pavers will be laid surrounding the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired house of former residents William Brincka and Basil Cross.

Aggregate paths of soft limestone will be constructed around the garden area with segments leading to the hosta garden, the tickle garden, daylilies, daffodils, and rhododendrons.

A large north loop, about a half mile in length, will connect paths around the wooded and wetland sections on the new land acquisition with timber boardwalks crossing over places where there is water.

Calpino said each path will “fit the character” of the park and with the loops hooking into one another, a person could walk the paths in a number of combinations.

Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos said a map showing the trails will be posted on the Park Department’s website.

Funding for the trails came from a matching grant of $150,000 from the Department of Natural Resources’ Recreational Trails Program.


At the start of the meeting, Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos told the board the department received a $9,900 grant this year from the Porter County Community Foundation which will be used for development of programming.

The department has the opportunity to apply for a matching grant of up to $200,000 with for the Raise the Barn Project with the Department of Natural Resources.

Lenckos said he will discuss partnering with the Porter County Parks Foundation who owns the land. The land will be the match for the grant.

He also told the board he looks to meet with representatives from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) who may be willing to contribute funds for the infrastructure needs of the Raise the Barn education center.

Name the Park

Kenworthy reported one name has been submitted for the new 63-acre park in south Porter County on Ind. 49 just north of the Town of Kouts from fifth graders at Kouts Elementary School -- Noland Park.

The students read about Dr. Phillip Noland while researching the history of Kouts. Noland treated residents during a three-week flu epidemic “without sleeping” in 1918, Kenworthy said.

The board is expected to decide on a name, possibly this summer. Lenckos said Noland’s is the only name submitted so far but other schools in south county can still make their nominations.

Kenworthy reported that neighbors of the new park in south Porter County did not state any major objections during an input meeting earlier this week at the Expo Center.

The board voted 5-0 to ask the County Commissioners to create a non-reverting fund for the new park to hold rent collected from farmers who will use the acreage to grow crops until the park is developed. If created, the fund would be used exclusively for development of the park.

Absent from the meeting Thursday was park board member Annetta Jones.

Programs on the Kankakee

In other matters, Lenckos said he has continued to have “really good” discussions with John and Mary Hodson of the Kankakee Valley Historical Society, who are considering donating their property on the river to the Parks Department.

Lenckos said talks indicate there could be educational and interpretive programming on the Kankakee River by the parks department sometime in 2015.

The department will be involved in this year’s annual KVHS Aukiki River Festival in August, Lenckos said.

Camp FUNset registration

Sign ups for Camp FUNset are ahead of where they were last year, Lenckos said, with one-third of the spots filled.

Parents can register and make payments online on the Parks’ webpage on the County’s website,



Posted 5/2/2014




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