Chesterton Tribune

 

 

South county park gets a name: 'Aukiki Park'

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

It’s been known simply as the “South County Park” for months but it now has a proper name.

The Porter County Parks and Recreation Board adopted the name Aukiki (pronounced ah-kee-kee) Park on Thursday recommended by the steering committee and originally proposed by Morgan Township sixth grader Jackie Osborne.

Park board member Craig Kenworthy said students from the south part of the county got to make suggestions as part of a contest. Other nominations were Foster Field, Noland Park, Playkeekee Park and Yellow Ridge Park.

Aukiki stems from a Native American word meaning the Kankakee River.

Osborne said in her letter to the committee that naming the park Aukiki will draw attention to the festival of the same name held at the Collier Lodge each August which may help restore the lodge at a faster pace. “Naming the park Aukiki Park will allow this generation and future generations to reconnect with, explore and learn from our past,” Osbourne’s letter said.

Aukiki Park was acquired by the parks department late last year, a 63.5 acre parcel on the southwest corner of CR 650S and Ind. 49 in Pleasant Twp., about a mile north of Kouts.

Park plans call for both active and natural features. A system of walking trails of over 2.5 miles is included.

Parks Planner Ray Joseph presented new drawings showing four softball/baseball fields, two full-sized baseball fields and one field for practicing, six standard soccer fields and one practice field. A “traditional” playground and an ice skating rink in the winter are also planned.

Joseph said the steering committee would like to add wetlands for controlling water quality with natural plant species. “We want to make the park as green as possible,” he said.

According to the plans, there will be a public access point on Ind. 49 with three other points that could be accessed by pedestrians. The maximum capacity for parking would be approximately 644 cars, 211 will be on paved surface while the rest would be temporary parking on the grassy practice fields.

The park does not yet have a funding plan, but if all goes well, construction could start within the next year, Joseph said.

Kenworthy, who resides in Morgan Twp., predicted Aukiki Park “will pull people from different places” including outside Porter County with its ability to host tournament sports. He lauded Joseph, staff and volunteers who participated in the planning.

From the audience, parks supporter Charlotte Read said she believes “a closer look” should be taken to find other areas in the south part of the county for natural preservation.

 

Posted 10/3/2014