The Porter County
Parks Foundation has taken issue with the County Commissioners’
interpretation of the facts regarding their attempt to build the new animal
shelter on U.S. 6 in Sunset Hill Farm County Park.
At the end of the
Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, Parks Foundation President David Nevill read
a prepared statement referencing comments made by Commissioner Jeff Good,
R-Center, at a meeting of the Porter County Council on May 24 that appeared
in the Chesterton Tribune.
At that meeting
Commissioners presented to the Council the building plans for the new
Shelter which will be built at a site northwest of the County Fairgrounds on
Ind. 49 near Division Rd.
Good told the
Council that the Commissioners had previously looked at other locations to
find a suitable spot for the Shelter, one of them being Sunset Hill Farm.
Contending it was
“probably one of the better sites” with closer proximity to Portage, Good
said the effort was “vehemently pushed back” because “the Parks Foundation
wouldn’t have anything to do with it.”
which acts as a non-profit organization to support the Porter County Parks
Department, owns a few of the parcels at Sunset Hill and has gradually
transferred acres over to the County Park Board. The Commissioners had eyed
a parcel along U.S. 6 belonging to the Foundation.
Nevill on Tuesday
said he wishes to defend the Foundation’s prior leadership who had the
passion to lead “a cooperative effort” in finding what would best benefit
the people of Porter County. The Foundation, in its statement, stands
against the claim that they were not willing to then work with the
“We are saddened by
events that may have caused a perception that we are a non-cooperative
organization,” Nevill read in the statement.
The Foundation is
interested in the pursuit of having cooperation and communication, Nevill
said, with “the development and implementation of activities that improve
the lives of people in our community through park development, land
acquisition and stewardship.”
Examples of this
are the internship program the Foundation is collaborating on with local
universities and other non-profit groups, the Westchester Migratory Bird
Sanctuary, a comprehensive master plan for the County Parks and further
development of its properties, said Nevill.
“We look forward to
strengthening our communication with hopes that this effort can lead to
clearer opportunity for our interest to align with that of yours,” Nevill
told the Commissioners.
President John Evans, R-North, thanked Nevill for presenting the statement
and asked fellow Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, to respond since
she went to a County Park Board meeting in 2013 to discuss the matter.
Neither Blaney or
Good backed down from the comments made that the Foundation had rebuffed the
concept of the Shelter at Sunset Hill.
“All I have to say
is that we are finally getting a shelter built,” Blaney said.
“We didn’t vilify
anybody. We just said they didn’t want it there,” Good told Chesterton
Good, as it should
be noted, was not yet a Commissioner when the debate over the over the
Sunset Hill Farm animal shelter took place. He was elected in 2014.
announced that they were no longer pursuing a shelter on Foundation property
at their Sept. 19, 2013 meeting.
articles in 2013 show that a number of parks supporters, not necessarily
Foundation members, and neighbors of Sunset Hill Farm verbally told the
Commissioners they were not in favor of having an animal shelter at the park
because of safety, noise and traffic concerns.
David Yeager who
was president of the Foundation at the time had said that handing over the
land for an animal shelter would have put at risk the Foundation’s 501c3