The Porter County Park Board on Thursday approved a motion recommending the
Lake County Parks Department be allowed to maintain a 20-acre parcel along
the Kankakee River in the southwest corner of Porter County.
Lake County Parks Superinten-dent Robert Nickovich said his department is
interested in acquiring the parcel which is owned by the Indiana Department
of Natural Resources. The purpose of annexing the land would be to include
it in Lake County’s 6.6 mile-long Grand Kankakee Marsh County Park and to
see the land is cared for.
The county’s official position on the land transfer will ultimately be
decided by the county commissioners but Nickovich notified the park board as
Porter County Parks Superinten-dent Walter Lenckos said he has no intentions
of operating it and supported the measure believing it would help maintain a
good relationship with Lake County Park officials.
Nickovich said the state land, also referred to as “Government Woods,” is
inaccessible except from the Kankakee River itself or through the park. It
is not connected to a county road on the Porter County side where it is
surrounded by private land.
The Grand Kankakee Marsh County Park, which Nickovich said was the first
county-run Fish and Wildlife property in the state, allows hunters onto the
property during the proper seasons as long as they sign a waiver.
Lake County, if the title of the land is transferred to it, will see that
markers are erected to keep hunters from walking on to private land.
Nickovich believes his department is more capable of conserving the site
than the DNR.
“We think we can provide more management opportunities on the site than the
state is providing currently” said Nickovich.
The potential deal is also being done to keep the land public for
conservation rather than selling it to private owners.
Nickovich said he would be open to the possibility of handing the property
back over to Porter County should they ever change their minds about using
it. “It should be a simple transaction,” he said.
Parks board member David Canright favored the idea, saying Lake County Parks
has been around longer and is better established than the Porter County
Parks Department and having the opportunity to work with each other would
benefit both parties in the future.
The board voted 5-1 to give the proposal a positive push to the county
commissioners. The one dissenting vote came from the board’s newest member,
Craig Kenworthy, who said it was “commendable” what Lake County was
accomplishing in the Grand Kankakee Marsh Park but asking Porter County to
cede land was a “hard sell” in his eyes.
“I have a problem giving Porter County land to Lake County,” Kenworthy said.
From the audience, parks supporters Herb and Charlotte Read praised the
action and encouraged the board seek more opportunities to work with other
counties bordering the Kankakee River, looking for potential areas were
river frontages could be preserved.
In absence of board attorney David Hollenbeck, the board postponed reviewing
a contract with Luke Builds which drafted plans last month for the
construction of the Raise-the-Barn activity center at Sunset Hill Farm
The matter will be heard at the board’s next meeting in March.
In other matters regarding Sunset Hill Farm, Kenworthy told the board he
knew of someone who would be willing to help clear some of the areas where
there are invasive plant species. Kenworthy said the service could be done
free of charge and would help restore some of the native species.
Acting on a concern from a resident, Kenworthy asked if the animals at
Sunset Hill Farm were being kept in an area that met regulations from
governing agencies. The park keeps goats and chickens for its educational
programs and is intending to include more animal species.
Lenckos said the park has met and exceeds regulations set by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture and the Indiana State Board of Animal Health.
Canright supported the idea of adding more farm animals to benefit parks
programs but asked Lenckos to consult the board first to make sure the
department has the resources needed to house them.
Lenckos said he consulted both the county highway department and plan
commission on expanding the parking area at the Brincka-Cross County Park.
Some adjustments will be made, he said.
The lot will be structured in an area away from neighboring property owners.
The new area contains a few unique species of trees, and Lenckos said the
trees will be preserved and anticipates having the plan ready for the board
to vote on at its next meeting. He said the lot should be finished prior to
In another matter, Lenckos announced there will be another public input
session for the parks’ new master plan tentatively scheduled for the end of