Chesterton Tribune


Board votes to seek funds for south county park

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Members of the Porter County Parks and Recreation Board voted Thursday to ask the County Council and the County Commissioners for $600,000 to acquire property somewhere south of U.S. 30.

A 6-0 vote favored board member Craig Kenworthy’s motion.

Kenworthy is tight-lipped about the exact location of the property, same as he was last month when he made known ongoing discussions with an unnamed property owner. The park, he said, would have active recreation amenities like baseball / softball and soccer fields along with passive features such as nature areas and walking trails.

From the floor, County Council member Jim Polarek, R-4th, said he had conversations with some of the commissioners earlier in the day who shared the view that a south county park would enhance the quality of life for local residents.

“This is something a lot of people have tried to get done for years,” he said.

Polarek said he also spoke with a few of his peers on the Council who see the need. He will see it to it that the request will be on the agenda for the Council’s next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 26.

“I think this is something we need to look at,” said Board President Richard Hudson. He added that having the funds ahead of time can steer the purchase.

“We will know what we can go after and how much land will be available.”

Fellow board member David Canright said lining up the money first would garner more support from other stakeholders.

Hudson said other people could give comments besides the board members. The park department’s Land Acquisition and Development Committee will hold a public meeting at a later date for discussion.

Brincka-Cross expansion?

In a similar matter, the Parks Department is also eying an acquisition for Brincka-Cross Gardens Park in Furnessville, announced Parks Planner Ray Joseph.

Speaking for Parks Superinten-dent Walter Lenckos who was absent Thursday, Joseph said the parks department is seeking grants and partnerships from organizations including the Lake Michigan Coastal Program to purchase a parcel of land located to the Northeast of Brincka-Cross gardens. The current property owner has approached the parks department about a possible sale.

Given its location near U.S. 20, Joseph added the purchase could potentially link the park with that of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Canright said putting in trails that would be near the National Lakeshore campground across U.S. 20 and the railroad could be considered.

Joseph said he did not know details or the size of the parcel in the potential deal and said Lenckos will likely speak more on it at the board’s next meeting in March.

Parks supporter Charlotte Read suggested to the board that with its request for the $600,000 for the south county park, it should also ask the County Council and Commissioners about using other funds for a matching grant with the Lake Michigan Coastal Grant program. The grant could help pay for an appraisal, she said.

Meanwhile, Herb Read encouraged the board to find out more about the state-owned areas around the Kankakee River near the Ind. 49 bridge. He said they could be used for canoeing or paddling and a destination for the Dunes-Kankakee Trail. He said the county parks in return could agree to manage the land.

Landscaping at Sunset Hill

Also at the meeting, the board discussed concepts for new landscaping at Sunset Hill Farm County Park along U.S. 6 to the north where the Damon Run Conservancy has a 40 foot wide easement in the park. Park Planner Joseph said invasive tree species will be removed and native plant species will be planted near the roadway for aesthetic purposes.

The landscape plan proposes another component – a tall fence to surround and hide the pump house with brick and limestone posts. Joseph said he has sent out requests for price estimates.

Hudson said before landscaping efforts begin, everyone should keep in mind that the state could widen U.S. 6 to four or more lanes in the next few years as more development is being seen in the area.

In another matter, the board tabled a discussion regarding a new version of the Raise the Barn Education Center floor plans to its March meeting.

Hudson said there have been discussions with the Recycling and Waste Reduction office and the Porter County-Purdue Extension office in the past few days about developing space to move their offices to the center along with the parks department.



Posted 2/8/2013