Chesterton Tribune



Porter County Park Board OKs change order for education center parking lot

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The Porter County Park Board approved a change order for work on the new Horton Children’s Center parking lot at its meeting Monday night.

The change order came about after the subcontractor excavating the site of the parking lot found unstable soil caused by wood and concrete debris from an old barn buried on the site. Through the Board’s construction manager, Chester Inc., the subcontractor presented a change order for an increase of $18,000 to stabilize the soil 18 inches down using materials already on site.

The Board approved the change order contingent on the Porter County Parks Foundation approving it as well.

2020 Budget

The Board also discussed the 2020 budget, ultimately approving the draft budget, contingent on any changes made by the budget committee.

The only major change in the budget from last year is the Board is asking for an additional $20,000 to $30,000 in funds for maintenance and repair. Board President Craig Kenworthy said he thinks County leadership is starting to value preventative maintenance more because assets that aren’t maintained well come with big costs down the line. “My feeling is by asking for more money for maintenance now, maybe we can offset that issue down the road,” Kenworthy said.

Board Vice-president Rich Hudson agreed: “I think it’s better to plan for it than to have it come up and have this huge elephant on our backs. If we don’t do maintenance as it comes along, then we’re in trouble.”

Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos said he also plans to request a change in salary ranges for park employees. Currently, the top wage for many part-time employees at the Park Department is $13.50 an hour. Lenckos said he wants to raise that ceiling to $15 an hour because several park employees are at the top range and may be eligible for raises in the future.

“If we need to raise them, we don’t have room. It would be nice in the next year or so to have that freedom,” Lenckos said. Raising the maximum wage would not change anyone’s pay in itself.

On that note, Board member Drew Armstrong said the Board should reconsider its recent tendency to fill vacant full-time positions by splitting the work into part-time positions.

“Maybe that bit us a little bit here,” he said, in light of the fact that Parks PR Coordinator Brooke Allen recently moved on. Armstrong suggested offering full-time work with benefits could help the Department attract and retain valuable employees.

Other Approvals

The Board also approved Nancy Lakin, of Northwest Indiana Geocachers, to place a new geocache at Brincka-Cross Gardens. Lakin is in charge of all NWI Geocacher geocaches in North Porter County.

Lakin said she plans to place a handicap accessible “multi-cache” at the Gardens, which means several clues will lead geocachers to a central location in the Gardens where they sign a log sheet to show that they’ve been there. Lakin said having a multi-cache at Brincka-Cross is “a way to advertise this unique property and get the history of it out there.”

Staff Report

Lenckos profusely thanked the Board and the Foundation members for their work on the Horton Children’s Center building project and his staff for making the Spring-Out to Sunset Festival a success, in spite of the rain. He also thanked the Northwest Indiana Historical Power Association (NIHPA) for providing wagon rides at the festival and thanked NIHPA President Nick Misch for lending use of the NIHPA shop for summer camp on short notice. “They did a spectacular job making sure we were all ready to go,” Lenckos said.

Lenckos told the Board that two people contacted him about donating land last week. One of the properties in question abuts the Department’s work-in-progress property, Hawk Ridge, in Pine Township. The other is a parcel near Hebron. Lenckos said he’ll be having further discussions with the Board’s land acquisition and development committee about the properties.

Lenckos made a reminder that the Prairie Magic Music festival is August 17 at Sunset Hill Farm Park. Los Lobos is headlining with additional acts Big Road, Robbie Fulks, and the Bottle Rockets.

New meeting date

The Park Board has rescheduled its July meeting, which was set to fall on July 4, for Tuesday, July 16 at 6 p.m.



Posted 6/20/2019





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