The master plan for the Porter County Parks and Recreation Department has
progressed to the public input portion of development.
To effectively gather that input, park superintendent Walter Lenckos has
taken two major steps. The first was to schedule two open house sessions.
The first will be a BBQ from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 19 at Sunset Hill Park.
Lenckos will personally cook hamburgers and hot dogs beginning at 5 and then
give the public an update on the data collection process and hold an
informal forum for public input.
“We wanted to provide something for people just to stop by after work,”
Lenckos said. “We will provide some food and soda and talk about what we
have found and give them a chance to give their opinion.”
The date for the November open house hasn’t been determined yet.
In the meantime, the park department has acquired the assistance of Leisure
Vision Inc., a consulting company out of Kansas that specializes in
recreational program development.
Lenckos said the master plan committee decided at the beginning of the
process to keep the costs of creating the plan as low as possible, which
meant limiting consultant fees, but with nobody on the board or in the
department having developed a comprehensive master plan before a little
outside help will prove beneficial.
It also helped that Leisure Vision’s quoted price was just about a third of
any other quoted consultant price.
“There were some things we wanted to get some input on since none of us were
around to create the 2007 master plan,” Lenckos said. “The committee also
wanted to limit the amount of our own biases that got involved. We knew that
might be tough so it will be helpful to bring on this company that
specializes in recreation.”
For the $19,450 fee, Leisure Vision will conduct eight interviews with the
board and staff, hold four focus group sessions and conduct at least 400
reliable surveys with Porter County residents either on the phone or online.
Surveying that number of people is the minimum for getting statistically
significant data for the project.
After collecting the information, the firm will provide Lenckos and his
staff with the reports in time for the park board’s December meeting.
“This is going to be very important for planning the next five years,”
Porter County’s 12th annual Winter Lights 2011 program is fast approaching.
More than three miles worth of lights will be installed at Sunset Hill Park
as part of this year’s program.
The lights will be installed soon with the official festival from 3 to 7
p.m. on Nov. 19. The festival will feature crafts, snacks, entertainment, a
grand entrance by Santa Claus and close with a fireworks show.
“It’s really going to be an excellent event,” Lenckos said.
The cost will be $5 per car. The event is also a benefit for the Toys for
Tots program so everyone is encouraged to bring unwrapped toys for donation.
As part of the agreement in acquiring the land for the Brookdale Park site,
the board allowed resident Bernie Michaels to continue living in the house
on the property for up to three years. Michaels has since decided against
staying there and gave up the house to the park department effective
The park board briefly discussed renting out the house for extra money or
looking into whether some park programming could happen there. The goal was
to avoid leaving it vacant so it won’t deteriorate.
Lenckos said his staff will look into the possibilities and report back next
Raise the Barn
The Raise the Barn project continues to move forward, Lenckos said. He said
currently $700,000 in funds have been raised and there are plans for bring
more possible investors to look at the property in the coming weeks.
Citing health concerns, three-year board member Ruth Jarnecke stepped down,
effective immediately, from her position on the board following Thursday’s
Jarnecke has made numerous donations to the park department, including money
for a maintenance barn and a road grader for educational purposes.
“I want to thank Ruth for her service,” board president Richard Hudson said.
“She took this position at a time in her life when I’m sure she had other
things to do than come and sit here in this chair every month. She has done
a lot for the park department.”
The Porter County Commissioners are immediately taking applications to fill
the vacant seat for the final two meetings of 2011 and all of 2012.
Applications can be picked up at the administration center or online and
will be accepted through Oct. 27.