Chesterton Tribune



Porter County Park education center work delayed

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Construction of the new Horton Children’s Center at Sunset Hill Farm Park has hit a hiccup that could cost an extra $19,000, according to Park Superintendent Walter Lenckos.

Lenckos brought a change order from Chester Inc., the construction manager on the project, to the County Park Board’s meeting yesterday following the discovery that there is unstable soil where the parking lot for the new grain-bin shaped education center was planned.

The root of the problem is debris--wood and concrete pieces from an old barn-- buried in the soil on the parking lot site. A subcontractor working for Chester quoted Lenckos a price of approximately $19,000 to stabilize the soil 18 inches down using materials already on site and remove the debris.

At this pace, the Horton Children’s Center won’t be open to the public at the Spring-Out to Sunset Festival, May 18, after all, though the parking lot may be the only piece unfinished.

Board President Craig Kenworthy was uncomfortable with the way the change order was presented, given that Chester’s subcontractor excavating the site has threatened to leave on another job if they aren’t given a task soon.

Board Vice-president Rich Hudson noted that Porter County’s had six inches of rain since Saturday, so any decision they make on the construction will have to wait until the ground dries out, anyway.

Kenworthy wondered if 18 inches of stabilization on the site would be enough or if debris might be buried deeper, and whether or not a good estimation of that can be made in the mud. Either way, Kenworthy was concerned about the longevity of the eventual parking lot.

“None of us can control the rain. What we can control is making sure when we make this decision that the ground is at the point that it naturally is and not saturated by as much rain as its sitting on now,” Kenworthy said.

“I’m not willing to spend this money unless it’s absolutely necessary to spend it,” he added.

Lenckos noted that the work has a one year warranty, but Kenworthy was concerned about problems years, not months, down the line. “It might not be my problem, but for some park board down the line in ten years its’ gonna be their issue,” Kenworthy said. “We’ve got to be good stewards on this, we really have to.”

Board member Drew Armstrong asked advice from County Council member Jeff Larson, R-At-large, who was in the audience. Larson advised them that inviting Chester and the subcontractor to a public meeting and getting a written guarantee for the work might be their best bet.

The Board voted to table the discussion and have Lenckos contact Chester to set up a meeting in the meantime.

In other business, Lenckos made a reminder that Spring-Out to Sunset is Saturday, May 18 from noon to 4 p.m. and at 4 p.m. Mojo Morganfield, a son of Blues legend Muddy Waters, will headline a concert. Admission to Spring-Out is $5 per car. Lenckos emphasized that there are still slots open for the Kansas City Barbecue Society competition. The contest is open to the public. There are four food categories entrants must compete in, and no propane is allowed.

Lenckos also reported, “Programs and summer camps are really rocking right now.” Summer camps are about three-fourths full and programs are filling up fast.

Also, the Board decided by consensus that it would be willing to entertain a discussion with the Northwest Indiana Croquet Association again, after the group backed out of a proposal to lease a portion of Sunset Hill to build a championship croquet field and clubhouse. Since the County Park Board cited environmental concerns stemming from the special lawn care needed on croquet courts and concerns about public access, the group was rebuffed by the Chesterton Park Board when it asked for space at Dogwood Park. In correspondence with Lenckos, the group’s attorney Michael Sawyier has said they’re willing to work with the board on those concerns.



Posted 5/3/2019




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