. The campaign will kick off
Tuesday, Sept. 9, and will run for 45 days.
Any money that
exceeds the goal will be used for further development of the playground,
Lenckos said. Parks Planner Ray Joseph estimated the grand total including
all installments of the playground will be $492,000 and grants will be
sought to help cover costs.
playground in stages will likely cut costs as volunteers can help with each
phase of the project, Joseph said.
During the meeting,
Joseph and architect Andy Howard of Hitchcock Design presented concepts for
the 1.5 acre “environmental learning” playground, replete with educational
opportunities for children of different learning abilities.
Kids can crawl into
a birch bark canoe, build a wigwam in the Native-American play area, observe
different types of model turtles in the turtle pit, challenge themselves in
the stone labyrinth, dig for “fossils” of prehistoric native species, search
for fossil imprints on the woodland floor, hear stories while resting on
great stone boulders, all while getting a sense of the legacy of Sunset Hill
Farm, Howard said.
“They can use pea
gravel and create a canvas. Kids love to grapple with and change their
environment,” he said.
The features were
chosen by a steering committee with representatives from Opportunity
Enterprises, the National Park Service, Parents as Teachers, park staff and
community members, Lenckos said. The site will be handicap accessible
The Park Board
voted 4-0 to move forward with the proposals.
Communications Director Dana Yake showed the Tribune a rough timeline
for the playground development which shows site design is set to be
finalized by the end of this year. Site preparation will begin early next
year with construction to follow. The playground could be open by fall 2015.
From the audience,
parks supporter Herb Read said his view of playground equipment is usually
“dim,” but he would agree that what he’s seen here “seems to be very good.”
In another matter
related to Sunset Hill Farm, the board gave Lenckos approval to proceed with
construction plans for the “Raise the Barn” education and administration
center, working with planners from Varvek Architects and Hasse Construction.
Richard Hudson said the goal is to get a better idea of the actual costs so
the board can start collecting donations and pitch to the County Council for
financial support of the project since the building will also hold
administrative offices for the County.
department hopes it can soon collect bids for construction.
Board member Craig
Kenworthy said he’d rather make sure the department has enough money to
cover the project before the bidding process starts.
Also, the board
wished Parks Manager Matt Howton well as he has accepted a job with Urschel
Laboratories at their new headquarters.
celebration is planned for Friday at 4 p.m. at the Sunset Hill interpretive
Howton as “one of the hardest working individuals” he’s worked with. Howton
thanked the board for their support during the 14 years he’s worked for the
Absent from the
meeting Tuesday were park board members Annetta Jones and Erik Kozuszek.
In other business,
-- The Northern
Indiana Historical Power Association will present its annual Fall Festival
and Antique Equipment Show at Sunset Hill Farm on Sept. 26-28 from 9 a.m. to
5 p.m. featuring demonstrations, crafts, kiddie tractor pull, petting zoo
and other entertainment. NIHPA will also have a float in this weekend’s
Popcorn Festival Parade, president Nick Misch said. An education day for
local 4th graders will be this Friday.
-- The Porter
County Parks Foundation reported acquiring a reconditioned backhoe for the
development of the future migratory bird sanctuary on 11th Street across
from the Westchester Intermediate School.
-- A local
veterinarian has submitted recommendations for the parks department to
follow on keeping animals safe and healthy in the Animal Farm Program at
Sunset Hill Farm, which go along with suggestions Kenworthy made at the
-- The parks’
partnership with John and Mary Hodson of the Kankakee Valley Historical
Society will be expanded. Parks staff will gather ideas on educational
programming which could begin next spring.
for the 1.3 miles of new trails at Brincka-Cross Gardens will be held next
month, Lenckos said.
-- Plans for new
trails around the pond and prairie restoration at Sunset Hill Farm are being
finalized by Joseph. The trails will be ADA accessible for visitors with
limited mobility, he said.