The Porter County
Park Board is in talks about collaborating with the Wildlife Management
Advisory Board and the Zona Wildlife Sanctuary.
About a year ago,
the Porter County Wildlife Management Advisory Board began discussing
collaborating with the Parks Department on some of the operations at the
Zona Sanctuary. Park Board Attorney David Hollenbeck has been working on
writing a memorandum of understanding outlining how the two entities will
work together, but needs more feedback from the Porter County Board of
Commissioners to call it done, he reported at Thursday’s Park Board meeting.
The Sanctuary will
remain property of the Commissioners, but the Wildlife Management Advisory
Board may begin reporting to the Park Board instead of the Commissioners,
Parks Superinten-dent Walter Lenckos said. Lenckos said Hollenbeck still
wants to get questions answered about chain of command and what projects
will require the Commissioners’ approval.
discussions first started last January, it was said that the Parks
Department might share maintenance work and financial resources as part of
In other business,
Lenckos reported the acquisition of the Smith property, 35 acres adjoining
Brincka-Cross Gardens in Pine Township, is moving forward, though he was
asked to provide additional documentation for one of the grants that’s
slated to fund the purchase. Lenckos still hopes the sale will close in
2020 Program Guides
are being printed and will be mailed out soon, according to Lenckos.
program activities have been slow due to unpredictable weather, but some
programs, such as a Kutzko Dog Training class at Sunset Hill and a
Valparaiso Public Library acrylic painting program have drawn people out.
There will be more acrylic painting programs this month and in March, and
the “Good Dog” training programs will continue throughout the year, Lenckos
the Northwest Indiana Croquet Association, which has been interested in
negotiating a lease with the Park Board to build four championship croquet
courts at Sunset Hill Park for some time, has expressed a willingness to
help fund improvements to the farmhouse at Sunset Hill if it can use the
facility as a clubhouse for players during future events. The Group’s
attorney, Michael Sawyier, has shown the Board plans for the courts, but is
still working out the details of a lease.
New Park Board in
Since the Porter
County Council in October passed an ordinance to change the make-up of the
Park Board, one new member still needs to be appointed.
eliminated the circuit court judge’s appointing authority, gave authority
for one appointment to the County Auditor, and gave the Board of
Commissioners two appointments instead of one, per a 2019 law that allows
counties to change-up their respective park boards.
The Council didn’t
gain or lose an appointment from the change. They reappointed Board members
Craig Kenworthy and Drew Armstrong last month, and County Auditor Vicki
Urbanik has appointed Erin Labovitz.
announcement that they would make their appointment at the Jan. 28
Commissioners meeting, the Commissioners have yet to fill their new seat.
Since they’re bound by state law to appoint two members of opposite
political parties, their new appointment must be a Democrat.
Lenckos said he
hasn’t received word about whether the lack of appointment is due to a lack
of candidates or some other issue. The Park Board has continued meeting in
the same configuration it met last year because Hollenbeck’s legal opinion
is that the Board remains the same until all new members are appointed.