Chesterton Tribune

New plan for Brookdale park drops price tag below $10 million

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Attention shoppers: The Porter County Parks Department is now slashing prices on its latest addition, the 65-acre Brookdale Park project.

After presenting three alternative draft plans in December, consultants JJR were able to “crystallize” a preferred plan after taking comments and suggestions from stakeholders and the public.

“It’s like trying to cram ten pounds into a five-pound bag,” said Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos.

The plan was unveiled before a small gathering of parks supporters and neighbors for a final input session on Wednesday which will serve as the basis for the park’s Master Plan due to be completed by April. The park will be located between CR 50W and Meridian Rd. and north of CR 900N and the CSX Railroad.

Other than a few concerns about drainage and safety, attendees gave positive comments to what they saw in the preferred plan prepared by JJR.

“It’s going to be a beautiful park,” remarked an audience member.

The previous input session estimated the costs at almost $17 million from start to finish, but the planning consultants said by prioritizing a list of features, the park could be launched at approximately $9.9 million.

The western portion of the park which will be used primarily for passive features is tagged for $2.2 million for the initial phase of development while the east end primary set up for active recreation is looking at $7.7 million for development.

“Obviously no one wants this park to be as expensive more than it needs to be,” said A.J. Monroe of SEH who is collaborating with the consultants.

To gain as much revenue and sustainability as possible, the consulting team is developing ways to make the Brookdale Park useful to county residents year-round. Monroe talked about the idea of creating an inflatable dome over the soccer fields that can be used for different events throughout the day such as seminars and day camps which have shown successful results in areas that have them.

The park is planned to feature up to two large baseball fields, two small softball fields, and four soccer/grid fields. The fields will also be lighted to maximize use as much as possible, he said.

Gregg Kalpino of JJR said it is important for the park to have a high quality active space for the sports fields which could attract regional tournament events.

Also under the plan, parking spaces would be positioned on both sides of the park. From the Meridian Road entrance, the plan shows a 200-car lot near the southeast entrance and a 100-car lot in the northeast corner. There is also an entrance planned along CR 50W that will sustain parking for about 40 vehicles for visitors utilizing the passive areas.

If additional parking is needed, Monroe said the county could develop a second phase that would address those issues. The team estimates a Phase II would cost between $3 million and $4 million.

More planned park features and amenities include: hard basketball courts southeast of the soccer and softball fields, three or more themed playground areas, several “outdoor classroom” spots, picnic areas, restroom and concession areas, kayak and canoe launches, a youth fishing hole, a sledding hill north of the baseball fields, boardwalks and overlooks, and stormwater rain gardens capturing drainage flows.

Walking trails will also wind throughout the park area totaling a distance of 2.62 miles.

Neighbors in the audience raised questions on what impact the park would have on traffic conditions along Meridian Rd. Kalpino said traffic is being looked at as part of the study and suggested acceleration/deceleration lanes be put in at park entrances.

One more concern regarded the issue of safety with the park being so close to the CSX Railroad. Monroe said steep embankments will help deter children from climbing onto the tracks. He said a fence may be needed or a short stone wall that would also fit in with the park.

Also asked was the status on the Boys and Girls Club consideration of building a new building on the property since it would be close to the northeast corner that closely borders neighbors’ properties.

Monroe, who is a board member for the Boys and Girls Club, said the organization has not made any commitments and right now is investigating the possibility of using that location.

Lenckos thanked the attendees for their feedback and invited them back for the Parks Board meeting on March 3 where the board will get a chance to see a presentation and make suggestions. A copy will also be available on the parks’ webpage found on the county’s website under forms and documents.

Lenckos said he does not expect construction work to begin this year but is hopeful for 2012.

“We’ve got a long time before this project becomes a reality,” he told the audience.

Funding opportunities for the Brookdale project are still in the works. Lenckos said building partnerships will be a key ingredient in acquiring those funds.

Welcome to Lake Liberty!

Those who attended the previous input sessions got the chance to vote on what the seven-acre lake on the western section shall be named.

A name has been chosen, Lake Liberty, as it appears in the preferred plan.

 

 

Posted 2/24/2011