Chesterton Tribune

Master plan for Porter County's Brookdale Park a step closer

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Porter County Parks and Recreation Board tipped its hat on Thursday to a request from the parks’ Land and Acquisition and Development Committee to have the board support a Request for Proposal for the Brookdale Park project master planning.

The board supported the request unanimously with a 6-0 vote.

There will be no specific costs in issuing the RFP but, just like other RFPs, will need to be advertised in the local media.

The action is separate from approving work for the master plan, which will come later after the committee drafts a final RFP and holds interviews with the development firms which respond.

Development Committee Chair Richard Maxey said the committee has met three times in the past month to discuss what should be included in the RFP.

An early first draft prepared with the help of park board member James Perkins lists three softball fields, one baseball field, three soccer fields that could also be used for football, jogging/walking trails throughout the park, lighted parking and additional lighting for the athletic fields, a boardwalk through part of the wetlands located south of the sports fields, utilizing plant life for proposed nature study program, clearing the existing ditch and give it a natural stream-like appearance, a site for a proposed Boys and Girls Clubs facility, a sled hill combined with an amphitheater, irrigation for the athletic fields by possible use of the existing pond, docking for boat/kayak rentals, water and sewer connections that will be extended under the railroad near CR 900N, and a cost estimate of each line item.

Board member David Canright said the committee should give direction to the firms by prioritizing the items most needed, as it may all be too much to “shoehorn in” for the 65.3-acre site.

Canright also suggested the possibility of including a version of the RFP that did not list the proposed Boys and Girls Clubs facility. He said that there have been discussions surfacing in Duneland regarding moving the Boys and Girls Clubs Duneland Unit’s current location at the Methodist Activity Center near the intersection of Second Street and Lincoln Avenue in Chesterton to a less central one on the Brookdale property.

The current location is in walking distance from surrounding elementary and intermediate schools and moving the location may not be popular with those in the Duneland area who utilize the facility.

“That’s the piece (in the plan) that doesn’t seem to fit well,” said Canright.

Perkins addressed the concern brought up by Canright, saying there have already been discussions with the schools and they have considered shuttling children by bus to the new facility. Despite the concern, the board approved the draft as it had been presented by the development committee.

Maxey also said subcommittees have been formed to deal with some of the challenges that have been encountered. A marketing and fundraising subcommittee has been established to collect corporate sponsorships and to seek recreation grants. An archives committee will photograph and chronicle the development in order to preserve the efforts that have been made.

“Folks fifty years from now can look back and see how this came to be,” said Maxey. “Things get lost otherwise.”

A publicity committee has been given the duty to communicate with the public the mission of the Brookdale park and dispel rumors that it will “replace” Sunset Hill Farm County Park, which is located about a mile south of the Brookdale development.

Maxey said the goal is for the two parks to “complement” each other and looks forward to the possibility for having both parks connected by the proposed Dunes-Kankakee Trail.

Canright told Maxey it would be wise to ask the Porter County Tourism Bureau for a “modest” grant of $5,000 or more since the fields could bring visitors to Porter County by holding regional tournaments.

Sign Up for Summer Day Camps

Recreation Director Gayle O’Connor told the park board Thursday more children ages 6-12 can be registered for the Sunset Nature Rangers Camp which starts on Monday, June 14 at Sunset Hill Farm. Campers will spend four days exploring Sunset Hill Farm from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and get the chance to participate in games and hands on activities.

Other Sunset Hill Farm camp series to follow are the Outdoor Adventure Living Camp from June 21 through June 24, Adventure Campout on June 25 and June 26, and Multi-Sport & Activities from June 28 through July 1.

The cost for each camp series is $55, except the Adventure Campout overnight which is $20.

All four camp series are to repeat again in July, O’Connor said. Any parent interested in registering their child or being a volunteer can contact the county parks department for more information.

O’Connor also told the board the office has received phone calls already from companies interested in being featured in the Touch-a-Truck fundraiser for next year. The proceeds from this year’s event, which was held on May 22, are to go to the Parents-as-Teachers program and the Porter County Parks Foundation.

Interim Superintendents Honored

Board member Ruth Jarnecke presented Parks Supervisor Mike Howton and Parks Manager Matt Howton with plaques to show the board’s appreciation for their service as co-interim superintendents during the search process for the new permanent superintendent.

Board president Richard Hudson said he was grateful to the parks staff for jumping in and helping any way they could from the start when former parks superintendent Ed Melendez turned in his resignation last September.

“I don’t think we can say enough, just thanks and thanks and thanks,” said Hudson.

Recently appointed parks superintendent Walter Lenckos said he has been overwhelmed by the welcome he has received since arriving in Porter County. He said he is “knee-deep” in the learning phases and complemented the board and staff for facilitating him in getting acquainted with his duties.

Lenckos reported he is working to turn in a first draft of the department’s 2010-2011 budget which is due to the Porter County Council by July 1.

Brincka-Cross Receives 183 Visitors in May

Brincka-Cross Supervisor Paula Ramos reported a drop in attendance last month compared to April when the Furnessville property that once belonged to artist William Brincka and friend Basil Cross opened as a county park.

Ramos informed the board she is setting up a Facebook page with photographs of the gardens in bloom. She also said she will be speaking with Lenckos on a weekly basis about starting programs at Brincka-Cross and hopes to include one “solid” program a month.

 

Posted 6/4/2010