The Porter County Parks received a favorable recommendation of 9-0 from the
county plan commission Wednesday to rezone its 25-acre Brincka-Cross Gardens
Park from Rural Residential (RR) to Parks and Recreation (P2).
The property located at 427 E. Furness Road in Pine Township was purchased
by the parks department in 2007 and officially opened to the public in April
2010. It is noted for its rare plant life imported by the original owners,
William Brincka and Basil Cross, who incorporated their artistic skills into
their four-acre garden area.
“There are plants there that don’t exist anywhere in the Midwest,” said
County Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos.
Before the vote, the planners got an earful of remonstrations from nearly
half a dozen neighbors unhappy with the way the county is currently
developing the park, alleging that park officials are “destroying the refuge
of wildlife in the area.” Trees have been cleared away as the department
makes way for parking and trails in the future.
One neighbor said that Brincka and Cross, who have both since passed away,
would “be just absolutely disgusted” with the way the county has cleared
away the trees on the property.
More neighboring residents added to the list of issues saying the roads to
travel on are in poor condition and schools buses traveling to the park
could be a safety issue. The road makes a sharp curve near the entrance of
the property. Others contended the zoning would have a negative impact on
property values and drainage, but the largest agitation seemed to stem from
the fact the neighbors had not been properly notified prior to changes on
County planner Ray Joseph, who presented the petition with Lenckos, said
planning for the park has been openly discussed at county park board
meetings and that officials are working to improve water quality as it
leaves the site. The trees removed are primarily black ash trees or others
that have invaded the property. Lenckos mentioned he has a list of the trees
that are to be protected.
Lenckos said he expects only a few visitors at the park during the day,
about 10 to 20. He said it is a “low-impact” park set up with trails for
visitors to tour the gardens and the surrounding wooded areas.
Planners Rick Burns and Sylvia Graham sympathized with the neighbors saying
they were “a little torn” hearing the problems with drainage and the traffic
While agreeing there may be issues with school buses travelling on the curvy
Furness Rd., fellow planner Lyndsay Ploehn said clearing away invasive
species of trees would benefit neighboring properties and saw the parks
potential educational value.
“It’s a prized area I would like people to be able to see,” said Ploehn.
Planner and longtime parks supporter Herb Read reiterated the point the
media has been reporting on developments at Brincka-Cross regularly.
“If you were opposed to it as a park, you’re a little late,” Read said to
audience. “I don’t think we should get hung up on whether this is a county
park. It is a county park and I think the zoning should reflect that.”
He said from his experience living near or within a park “is a benefit” and
“not something to be afraid of.”
More support for the park came from other planners such as Richard Maxey and
Tim Cole who said the parks department is probably the best owner to
preserve the property the way Brincka and Cross developed it. A private
owner would be free to alter the property to their liking, Cole said.
Lenckos later invited neighbors in the audience to tour the park and discuss
the development with him.
In other business, the council split on appointing a board appointee to the
new Development Review Committee which will examine plans for minor
developments. Four votes went to Read and four went to planner and county
surveyor Kevin Breitzke who were the two nominees. Ploehn was not present at
the time the vote was made.
A revote will be taken at the commission’s next meeting on April 11.