The Barn will still be Raised.
Modifications and enhancements for the barn-themed activity center proposed
for Sunset Hill Farm Park have delayed, but in no way derailed the Raise The
Barn project, Porter County Parks and Recreation Board members said at their
June meeting Thursday.
Discussing the project amid concern about slow progress from the Porter
County Parks Foundation, the board indicated the plan remains for ground to
be broken on the building, which will serve as an educational center as well
as a location for receptions and possibly some county offices, by Oct. 1.
The foundation’s concerns stem from pressure from the project’s biggest
private donor that if the building isn’t started by Oct. 1, it will request
that its $100,000 donation, made 10 years ago, be returned.
“The foundation is concerned that the board isn’t interested in moving
forward,” Ruth Jarnecke, who is also a park board member, said to the board
speaking as the president of the foundation. “We need to get the barn
started by Oct. 1 or we will have to return the donor’s money.”
Board member David Canright said that accusation was untrue and that the
board wants to work closely with the foundation, not against it.
He, along with several other board members, also refuted the idea that the
project has not been started, citing several recent cleanup projects that
have prepped the land.
Before the new barn could be constructed, the old structures on the property
had to be removed, the area cleaned of debris, a chicken coop had to be
moved and testing and soil analysis had to be done. With the preparation
work now complete, the land is finally ready for the new structure.
The last hurdle will be finalizing the plan for the center. The original
structure was intended as a 4,000 square foot building with a price tag
around $450,000. Since the original concept, additions such as office space,
intended to increase the chance of obtaining more funds, have altered the
Park superintendent Walter Lenckos said blueprints are currently being drawn
up with the new proposal, but are not ready for public release. Despite
that, he said he still expects the construction to begin by Oct. 1.
to work together
Lenckos said he has been approached by the County Drainage Board to work
together to alleviate some of the flooding in Liberty Township near Meridian
Road and 900.
Because of the disruption of the natural water flow to the park-owned pond
and wetlands near 50 West, north of the railroad tracks, that area of the
county has been prone to flooding. The pond is included in the proposed
Lenckos said the drainage board proposed that they try to remedy the problem
by taking the lead on the project, which would include maintenance of an
inlet into the pond that often becomes clogged.
He also said they are exploring the possibility of installing a pipe that
would run from the tracks into the pond. This would improve the flooding
issue by restoring the natural flow of water into the wetlands.
Camp numbers up
The number of children registered for park-run summer camps has already
eclipsed last year’s total. Lenckus said that more than 300 participants
have already signed up for Camp Funset and they are just entering the part
of June that typically sees the biggest jump in enrollment.
The superintendent said he was confident that the parks would reach their
goal of doubling last year’s figure to 480 participants.
Camp Funset offers a variety of camp programs running from June to August,
including a film camp, a nature rangers camp, a wilderness camp and a
creative kids camp. For information, call (219) 465-3586 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The committee developing the park department’s five-year comprehensive plan
has broken into its subcommittees and is in the fact-finding stage. The
committee is in the midst of data research in the areas of land use, program
use, demographics, various financial data and several other areas.
“It’s really a great group,” Lenckos said. “I’m excited about what it will
The final draft of the plan must be completed by April 2012, but a rough
draft is due to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources by Dec. 15.
Plans are in place for a web site to be created so the public can see
developments and the first public meeting on what should be included in the
plan is planned for September. The board encouraged rsidents from across the
county to provide input on what they would like to see in the plan.
“This is the time for residents to make their desires known,” board member
Canright said. “We are encouraging residents from the county, including
south county, to join in the discussion of the master plan.”
The board decided to hold off on discussions about further developments for
the Brincka-Cross Gardens after a soil test showed that the proposed site
for a parking lot was unsuitable.
Lenckus said he is in discussions with the three landowners in the area to
form a new layout for the park and the board agreed to further discuss the
issue when more information was available.
The theft of a large hosta from the property also prompted discussion about
the need for a fence surrounding the gardens to prevent vandalism. Lenckus
said the department should have the resources to build the fence.
In other business:
• The park board is considering obtaining an intern to assist in modernizing
the park’s web site. Department research has shown that the cost of hiring a
professional will be too high, but several area schools offer programs that
could allow for the web site to be constructed “right and at the right
• New forms for renting park space should be completed shortly. The rates
and agreements will remain the same as last year, but the forms and
application process will be streamlined for efficiency.
• Lenckos said the May 14 Spring Out Festival at Sunset Park was enjoyed by
the 200 attendees despite the cold and rainy conditions. He said a strong
vendor turnout, good performances and plenty of suggestions for handling the
weather by attendees bodes well for next year’s event.
scheduled Park Board meeting will be at 6 p.m. on July 7 at the Porter
County Administration Center at 155 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso.