Chesterton Tribune



Purchase of 46 new acres for Brincka-Cross nearly complete

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The ink is nearly dry on the Porter County Park Department’s purchase of 46 additional acres at Brincka-Cross Gardens in Pine Township.

Park Board Attorney David Hollenbeck told members at their meeting Thursday night that after a few months of negotiations, the owner of what has been referred to as the “Smith” property has signed the acquisition papers, as has President Rich Hudson, and the title is in the process of being transferred.

The additional acres, located north of the existing park, will more than double the size of Brincka-Cross Gardens.

The board voted in November to authorize the sale at a price not to exceed $309,000. An anonymous benefactor, possibly more than one, is footing nearly the entire bill at about $300,000, Superintendent Walter Lenckos said.

On a related note, Lenckos said consultants SEH will in April present the latest drawings on the 1.6 miles of new trails in the planning stages for Brincka-Cross Gardens. Part of the trails will traverse the new property, he said.

Development of the trails will be made mostly with a $150,000 matching grant from the Department of Natural Resources.

At Sunset Hill

Meanwhile, a number of projects underway at Sunset Hill Farm County Park are making fine progress, Lenckos reported. Phase 1 of the three-acre pond and 28-acre prairie restoration project is on track, which consists of removing invasive plant species and replacing them with native species. That is also being funded mostly with outside sources, including a $31,500 matching grant from the DNR’s Lake Michigan Coastal Program.

Phase 2 of the project--a walking path around the pond and enhancement of the parks educational programs--is anticipated to start next year, Lenckos said.

Next, Lenckos said Parks Manager Matt Howton will be collaborating with Porter County Museum of History Director Kevin Pazour on a small exhibit on the history of Sunset Hill Farm, from its beginning as one of the biggest dairy operations in the state.

The exhibit, which will be featured at the County Museum, will coincide with the 80th anniversary of Sunset Hill.

In addition, Lenckos said the parks department will be hosting a community picnic at Sunset Hill commemorating the anniversary set tentatively for late July.

Nick Misch, president of the Northern Indiana Historical Power Association, said NIHPA looks to include bits of Sunset Hill Farm history in its museum located on park property later this year. Misch said he intends to discuss with County park planner Ray Joseph on where NIHPA can place its museum, possibly in one of he barns.

It will also include bits of local history on Porter County and Indiana in general, Misch said.

Lenckos mentioned this will be a big year for Sunset Hill Farm with weekend rentals exceeding last year’s numbers. The calendar is nearly full, he said. “We’re going to be really busy this year, but that’s a good thing.”

Garden/Farm Animals

Taking comments from the audience, the board heard parks supporter Herb Read say he would like to see a community garden at Sunset Hill in addition to the children’s garden.

A vegetable garden where the public could have a plot of land to grow produce was once a feature years ago at Chellberg Farm in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Read said. Since Sunset Hill is getting back to its roots with housing livestock, Read said, having a community garden would add to that.

“Here we have a farm. Why not have the same program?” said Read who added that the garden would be a great way the public can get involved with the parks.

Lenckos said he is not sure where on the property a community garden would be suitable. A report from the Farm Animal Committee will be delivered during the April park board meeting.

South County Park

Also, Member Craig Kenworthy told his colleagues that the 63-acre South County Park on Ind. 49, north of Kouts, could have roughly 10 acres of grass plantings on it by the end of spring.

He said he has spoken with businesses that have expressed interest in lending large equipment for the development of the park which will cut down some of the costs.

The committee for the new park has been busy in the planning process, he said.

Other news:

* Lenckos said the new Parks website is ready to roll but currently is only accessible through the Porter County webpage, The link is currently broken but should be functioning “in the next week or two.” The new site allows residents to sign up for park programs and pay online via credit card.

* The department has hired Dana Yake as its new Communications Director. Yake comes from The Lake Shore Leadership center where she worked as Director of Marketing and Development.

* The County Commissioners will announce a new park board member at their March 18 meeting who will replace Ruth Jarnecke who resigned last month.



Posted 3/10/2014




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