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