By MARGARET L.
Chesterton Park Board members expressed frustration that the park
department got such a low benefit from the town’s windfall payment from
the Utility Service Board.
“We appreciate the generous contribution of $20,000,” board member Ted
Jacobs said with some sarcasm. “It would seem to me that is money that’s
not going to affect the taxpayers or the ratepayers,” he said pointedly,
adding that with the attention the County Parks are now focusing on the
urgent need for land acquisition the town council should have “taken a
Jacobs said he agreed that every department should have gotten a share of
the money, but that the parks’ needs are the greatest.
“It seems to me they know the parks are always strapped for funds. It’s
ridiculous, in my opinion, that the parks should continually be the poor
child,” Jacobs said. “We could have done a lot of things with it and
nobody would have been hurt,” he added. Board member Dick Littlefield
commended council president Richard Whitlow for “going to bat for us.”
The money was a repayment of an emergency transfer made to the Utility
Service Board by the Town Council in 1999 to cover costs of repairs to a
collapsed sewer beneath Porter Ave. between Fifth St. and Eighth St.
It had originally been suggested by council president Whitlow, R-1st and
supported by Gina Darnell, R-5th, that the total of $146,260 be given over
to the Park Department, which has struggled for years under what many have
called an insufficient budget.
At its February 12 meeting the Town Council voted 3-2 to spend $56,260 of
the money on sidewalks and the rest on new equipment and improvements
sought by department heads.
Whitlow and Gina Darnell, had both supported all money going the parks.
But members Frank Sessa, D-2nd, and Bob Crone, R-3rd--joined by
Clerk-Treasurer Gayle Polakowski, to break a tie caused by the absence
from the meeting of Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th--voted to split the cash
among departments; the lion’s share of which going to what might
ordinarily be a project paid for with bonding.
$56,260 was set aside to build a portion of the planned sidewalk on the
east side of 23rd St., from the Peterson Ditch easement south of Union
Ave. to Dogwood Park. Money remaining from last year’s $885,000 bond
issue will pay for the remainder.
$20,000 to the police department for portable radios and a voice stress
$20,000 to the fire department for portable radios and new pagers.
$10,000 to the town hall for a new copier.
$20,000 to the street department for improvements to its maintenance
building and for yellow flashing school zone lights on Fifth Street.
$20,000 to the park department for a new parking lot at Dogwood Park.
Superintendent Bruce Mathias reported to the board that the Duneland Group
is working on a map and drainage plan for the additional 10 acres added to
the west side of Dogwood Park. Additional parking and a road are to be
installed for access to soccer fields.
“We’ll see how far that’ll take us,” Mathias said of the $20,000,
adding that the Duneland Soccer Club has committed to helping provide
funds for the project. “If they can help us, then that’s what we’ll
do,” he added.
Thanks for Contribution to Parks
The board has sent a letter of thanks to Sigmund Niepokoj, of Chesterton,
for his contribution of labor and expertise in making wooden signs for the
Dogwood Park’s golf facility.
The new signs will provide a “welcome addition to the overall appearance
of the park for years to come,” the letter said, going on to thank
Niepokoj for his contribution of “time and talent,” to increase the
enjoyment of the parks for the whole of the Chesterton community.
The board tabled the issue of softball field fees, pending review of other
area softball fees. Currently, fees are $50 per day plus a $5 per hour
maintenance fee. The board agreed they also need to re-examine policies
and rules, including concession fees.
In other business, the park board approved the request from the Duneland
Diamond Association for use of the baseball field at Fifth St. and Porter
Ave., in Chesterton Park.
The association’s season extends from April through October, weather
permitting. Rick Youngren, vice-president of the association, pledged to
the board the association will abide by park rules and help maintain the
“In the past you’ve done a really good job,” said Emanuele, noting
the field gets nearly daily use during the summer. The Duneland Diamond
Association serves Duneland school district residents.
The nets are in for protecting houses at the north end of the softball
fields in Dogwood Park, Mathias said, and will be installed as soon as the
weather warms up.
Repairs to the damaged tennis courts will also be undertaken as soon as
weather allows, Mathias said. He told the board he’s been waiting to see
if the juvenile who caused the damage would be ordered by the court to pay
The board will meet an hour and a half early for its April 4 meeting for a
“windshield tour” of the park system and to hear Mathias explain
facilities and point out trouble spots and issues.