The Porter County
Parks Department anticipates spending most of this year focusing on
development of the “Raise-the-Barn” education center at Sunset Hill Farm and
Aukiki Park north of Kouts on Ind. 49.
The Park Board met
briefly Thursday to decide what it’s priorities will be in the new year with
input from staff and elected officials.
Superintendent Walter Lenckos said the surveys collected ranked Aukiki and
the education center as being “by far” the highest. Third on the list is the
development of trails at Sunset Hill Farm and fourth is updating the
department’s master plan.
Last month, bids
were received for the education center that put costs at nearly $3 million.
Lenckos said workshop sessions have been scheduled later this month with
county officials so they can share their input before he makes a request for
funding at a future County Council meeting.
Along with the
focus on the trails at Sunset Hill, Lenckos said the parks department
intends to install new signage and one resident is looking towards building
a kiosk at the park for his Eagle Scout project. The new dock on the pond
will be ready next week and the next phase will start soon for the prairie
restoration, Lenckos added.
For Aukiki, board
member Craig Kenworthy who has spearheaded the development there, said he
would like tree plantings to be part of the long-term plan. One species he
hopes to plant is sugar maple so that “thirty years down the line” there can
be programs to make maple syrup.
Aukiki is being
planned as an active park with soccer, softball and baseball fields.
In other news,
Lenckos said that next week the County Parks Department will accept the
“Good to Great” award from the Indiana Park and Recreational Association for
Lenckos said this
is the first time the department has received an award like this from the
“This puts a
feather in our cap,” he said. “We are really excited.” Lenckos gave credit
to landscape architect Charles Lehman for his assistance with the park’s
master plan and to board member David Canright who has been the board
advocate for the trails and other improvements.
the IPRA gave the award to two park departments in the state this year. The
other was to Brownsburg Parks Department.
Not far from
Brincka-Cross Gardens, the Parks Department officially closed on the
purchase of 137 acres of land in Pine Twp. on Old Chicago Rd. near CR 500
East, board attorney David Hollenbeck told the board in his report.
The acquisition has
become known as the “Cain Property” after Thomas Cain who sold the property
for $850,000 earlier last year.
“Now we take on the
momentous task of what to do with 137 acres,” Hollenbeck said.
Since the purchase
was made entirely from land conservation grants, the land is limited to
interest in being a leader for the property’s development and looking at
partnership opportunities with environmental and conservation groups in
With park board
members Drew Armstong and Annetta Jones absent, the board agreed to postpone
officer elections to next month. Board members will then be assigned to lead