Chesterton Tribune

Craig Kenworthy of Morgan Township joins county park board

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The southern half of Porter County will have another voice on the county’s Park and Recreation board, which welcomed newcomer Craig Kenworthy of Morgan Twp. Thursday.

Kenworthy was appointed by the county council just moments before the park board met on Thursday night, filling the seat previously held by Chesterton resident Jim Perkins.

A native to southern Porter County, Kenworthy has a background in construction and mechanical contracting and is a coach for the Morgan Twp. Little League. He told the Chesterton Tribune he was interested in the board position to help find areas in south county suitable for potential park development, improving the quality of life for residents, especially youth.

“Obesity is the number one cause of heart disease and other (health) problems,” said Kenworthy, who would like to see more recreational fields and believes his expertise in planning will be an asset to the board.

Board member Rich Hudson will lead the group again as president for the year. Assuming the duty of vice-president is board member Rebecca Tomerlin. Attorney David Hollenbeck will be retained as the board’s legal counsel.

Getting down to business, Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos highlighted the progress of the Raise the Barn project at Sunset Hill Farm, which is starting to finally make some headway. Lenckos said the pipes for sewer utilities to Sunset Hill Farm Park from the future hospital nearby are in and he expects the buildings at the park will have service in about eight weeks.

Board members were also e-mailed a draft of the construction agreement for the barn on Thursday and asked the board to review it in time for its February meeting when they could vote on it.

The firm in the drafted agreement is Luke Builds, the construction firm of Luke Oil in Hobart, with a proposal to complete construction, including architectural design and landscaping, not to exceed a price of $3.5 million.

Lenckos expects the project, which was first proposed over a decade ago, will get off the ground in the next few months.

Sitting in the audience, Council member Jim Polarek, R-4th, encouraged the board to use Kenworthy’s expertise in finding the right contractors that could produce construction jobs for local residents. “We can put some people to work,” he said.

In another matter, Tomerlin expressed her satisfaction with the landscaping work done at Brincka Cross Park in Furnessville. The parks department has been busy removing trees and plants to form more walking trails, as well as creating more space for parking as more programs are being utilized there.

The parks has called upon the county to expand the parking and Lenckos hopes the work to be done before this April’s opening of Celebration of Colors, when visitors can see the plants and flowers in bloom.

In other business:

• Lenckos praised workers for the success of this past season’s Winter Lights drive-through displays at Sunset Hill Farm. Worker’s estimated close to 8,600 cars drove though the park to see the displays between mid-November and early January.

• Bid proposals will go out to farmers interested in utilizing the two park sites that are currently vacant tillable fields – the 50 or so acres at Brookdale and the 47 acres at the former prison farm in Pine Twp. Hollenbeck said he will present the bids at the March meeting.

• Parks Manager Matt Howton will occupy the house at Brookdale, moving from the residency on CR 700N at the south edge of Sunset Hill Farm which Lenckos is eyeing for use by parks programmers. He said it is common in the recreation field to provide temporary housing to employees.

• Parks supporter Herb Read asked the board to consider acquiring a tract of land between the parks’ Pine Twp. prison farm land and the parcel of land that will be used by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as a bird sanctuary. Read hopes the unacquired parcel of land, which borders the Little Calumet River, can be preserved as well.

• Board member David Canright pointed out to members of the press that Dunn’s Bridge Park in Pleasant Twp. is still open while contractors continue repair work on the nearby road bridge over the Kankakee River.

• Lenckos said the parks’ Master Plan Committee will hold a meeting on Jan. 25 at 8 a.m. at the Sunset Hill Farm interpretive center to put finishing touches on the plan.

Posted 1/6/2012