Chesterton Tribune


Former Porter County home grounds eyed for sports practice fields

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Porter County may find a permanent use for its former county home site Ind. 2 right across from the Animal Shelter.

On Tuesday, Stuart Stanfill and Bryan McFadden, president and vice-president of the Valpo Soccer Club respectively, pitched to the county board of commissioners the idea of developing the 9-acre site into sports practice fields.

The pair said the club has been using fields of the Valparaiso Parks system but they are becoming crowded by more sports teams.

“Three teams and two sports have been played on one field at the same time,” said McFadden.

Facing the need for more space, Stanfill and McFadden asked County Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos if he knew of any place in the county parks where teams could play. Lenckos said the parks, except for the undeveloped Brookdale Park in Liberty Twp., are zoned for passive use but he thought the county home site could be a possible location for these fields.

The goal would be to develop three to four full-size 120’ x 80’ soccer fields. Stanfill said the club has money to put forward to offset the development costs.

They asked that VSC get “first dibs” on use of the fields, but the fields could be used for any soccer club in Porter County like the Duneland Soccer Club. Stanfill said there is 22 Lake/Porter soccer clubs in the Northwest Indiana Soccer League with the VSC being the largest with players hailing from Kouts and as far away as North Judson.

VSC would use the grounds for practice during their biannual twelve week seasons. The area could also be used in the summer for camp activities.

A rough map shows there could also be a T-ball field, a picnic pavilion, parking, a playground and walking trails that would enhance the surrounding neighborhood.

Stanfill said the VSC would also like to build with its own funds a storage facility where it could store equipment.

Lenckos said the parks department would be willing to help out with maintenance. He recommended an agreement between the county and VSC could be done as a Memorandum of Understanding.

Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, said he liked the idea but had plenty of questions as to who would be in charge of “rolling the ground” and what additional needs the sports teams would have, such as lighting and restroom facilities.

Stanfill said lights were not necessary but bathrooms would be and VSC would be willing to talk further about costs. VSC gets its insurance through their association.

Commissioner Carole Knoblock, D-South, asked that the matter be tabled since it was the first time she had heard about the proposal.

Evans said he would like to have a nod from the county parks board before taking a vote. Lenckos said the board will discuss it at its meeting Thursday night with representatives from VSC.

The county home grounds are incorporated into the Valparaiso City Limits and Evans said it would be the city that would have to adjust the zoning. Right now much of the parcel is a wetland, he said.

Lenckos said he does not intend for the property to become part of the parks system. It is owned by the county board of commissioners. However, there have been requests from county residents to have recreational opportunities south of Valparaiso and this would help fulfill that demand, he said.

Fees for juvenile home arrests

Meanwhile, Porter County Juvenile Services Director Alison Cox is proposing a way to reduce the number of delinquents held at the Juvenile Detention Center by putting more on house arrest as a less stressful form of detention.

The commissioners gave unanimous approval to first reading of a new ordinance that proposes per diem fees for the home arrest program. Families with low risk children would be charged $3 a day while those with higher risk children would have to pay a $5 daily fee.

Cox said about 40 children are on house arrest currently and with the new measure in place, the number of candidates for house arrest are expected to increase significantly.

Those in the house arrest program will be given support and supervision. The proceeds from the fees would go to fund more part-time workers for the program.

If the ordinance is passed, families would have the option of being charged the fee once a court determines a juvenile to be delinquent or during the time the child is in the house arrest program.

The commissioners will take a second and final reading on the ordinance to set the fees at their next meeting Oct. 16.

In other business:

• Garriup Construction of Gary was selected as the firm to perform the Evergreen Avenue Bridge reconstruction for $573,400. The deteriorated bridge, which was closed for safety over a year ago, crosses over Willow Creek in Portage. County Highway Superintendent Al Hoagland said the work will start on Oct. 22.

• The commissioners appointed Kathryn Lemmon to fill a vacant spot on the Health Board. Lemmon had served previously on the board from 2003 to 2010.

• The Memorial Opera House was approved $8,640 for roof repairs and replacement of old gutters. Interim Director Michelle Smith said the last renovation was done about 15 years ago. FR Sheet Metal of Gary who was the lowest and most responsive bidder will do the work. Meanwhile, the commissioners will put out a request for bids for a new storage building at the Expo Center and Fairgrounds.


Posted 10/3/2012