The line to get in
and out of Sunset Hill Farm for the Winter Lights Festival will be shorter
this year said Porter County Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos, with an
additional entrance/exit created off of Meridian Road.
Park Board meeting, Lenckos thanked the County Highway Department and park
maintenance staff for constructing a 40-foot entry south of the main
entrance that leads into the event parking area.
Winter Lights is
set for Saturday, Nov. 22, from 3 to 8 p.m., with a visit from Santa Claus,
the ice princess and snow queen and “the most amazing fireworks show you
will ever see in November,” Lenckos said.
Park Board members
put their own contributions together to purchase a tree sponsorship for the
festival, after member Craig Kenworthy suggested the donation. “I thought it
would be something nice that we could do,” he said.
to Sunset Hill park were discussed in the meeting, one of which is to
rehabilitate the trail system, which has suffered damage this past month due
to heavy usage from events and a steady dose of rain, Lenckos said.
With a large
turnout for Haunted Hayrides during a wet weekend, “ruts” were left on the
trails, particularly those on the northeast side of the property, Lenckos
Lenckos said the
damage is severe enough that it is a safety issue for trail users and
proposed to the board a list of three options for next spring -- to create
new trails for wagons that would be separate from the walking trails,
re-engineer the trail so that it can sustain multiple users, or restricting
usage of the trails by one or more user groups.
president of the Northern Indiana Historical Power Association which holds
events at Sunset Hill Farm, offered NIHPA assistance to help “smooth out”
the trails once they dry up.
Lenckos said park
maintenance crews put down crush gravel in the roads around the Col. Murray
Memorial Garden that were also rutted from the rain.
Also, Lenckos said
the Pond and Prairie area currently being restored at Sunset Hill Farm has
been sprayed with a herbicide treatment that has turned it a brownish color.
He said a prescribed burn will possibly happen this spring and seeds will be
planted, but the pond and prairie will not be returning to a “showy and
sexy” green until after next year. The staff will also engage in management
and monitor training for the restoration next spring.
In other business,
the park board agreed that a park staff member should reside in the house on
a short-term basis at Brookdale Park, located between CR 950 North and CR
900 North on CR 50 West, after Lenckos reported signs of trespassing.
After the former
park manager moved out of the house a few months ago, Bryan McFadden who is
exploring the parks for a possible urban deer hunt program told Lenckos he
spotted tracks made by an off road vehicle and evidence that someone had
tried to use a boat on the existing pond.
monitoring is needed because of the possibility of someone getting hurt or
trespassing onto neighboring properties. Park Planner Ray Joseph will be
moving into the house.
“We hope this will
alleviate the problems,” said Lenckos.
On a similar note,
Kenworthy suggested having a researcher or a biologist stay in the house at
Brincka-Cross Gardens, which would benefit the parks department in the task
of identifying the different plant and animal species there and also in the
housing a biology expert at Brincka-Cross is mentioned in the parks master
In other business:
-- Joseph said the
Plan Commission at its meeting this month will hear the Park Department’s
request to rezone Aukiki Park’s 63 acres, at Ind. 49 and CR 650 South, from
Single-family Residential to Parks and Recreation (P2). The P2 designation
is more suitable for parks with active features, he said. The meeting will
be held next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the County Administration Building.
The plans for Aukiki Park were warmly received last month by the Kouts Town
Council, Joseph said.
-- NIHPA President
Nick Misch said nearly all of the farm equipment the group has at Sunset
Hill Farm is now inside and work on the proposed “museum” has begun. The
public can come view the machinery and eventually NIHPA would like to have
features that can be accessed on cell phones showing videos of how the
machines work. “Our mission has come along. It’s worked out better than we
ever thought,” said Misch.
-- The board
approved an additional allocation to mail out “The REporter” to county
residents informing them of the programs going on at the parks. Lenckos said
the quarterly publication is expected to go out the first week of December.
-- Lenckos said
$3,500 was raised in the online fundraiser for the Children’s Playground at
Sunset Hill Farm Park, which was more than he expected. He said he will
pursue a $150,000 grant with the Indiana American Water Environmental Grant
program for the playground.
-- The board
welcomed its newest member, George “Drew” Armstrong, who replaces resigning
member Erik Koszuzek.