Chesterton Tribune

Porter Park plans outdoor ice skating rink this year

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Weather permitting, the Porter Park Board agreed Tuesday to flood an area of Hawthorne Park for public ice skating this winter.

“We’ll give it a whirl,” said park superintendent Jim Miller.

Board president Rondi Wightman said if the rink is laid out near the north side of the community building, its lower level could be used as a warming area and concession stand while upstairs spectators could watch from the deck or from inside the building.

She noted the town Fire Department has offered to flood the skating area, and the Public Works Department has sand bags the park could use to mark its perimeter. Miller said the rink would have to be lined, and there’s already some lighting available near the proposed area.

Skaters likely will be asked to sign a liability release, which is being reviewed by the park’s attorney.

In other business, Wightman said she’s very excited about the park’s efforts to restore programming for senior citizens at the community building. Luncheons are planned to solicit ideas from seniors how they want the program to develop, and 42 responded to attend the first one this week.

Wightman noted the Duneland YMCA’s current efforts at senior outreach will coordinate with the park’s, not compete. “I think it’s the right time in the community,” said Wightman of both programs.

It was announced the Park Department received $3,350 as donated proceeds through ticket sales and a silent auction from last month’s inaugural Porter’s Perfect Pint brewfest put on by Leroy’s Hot Stuff and Pat’s Liquors.

“It was a smashing success,” said Park Board member Patty Raffin. The Fire Department also benefited from the fundraiser.

In other park business Tuesday:

•John Beckman updated the board on his Windows to the Wetlands project to restore the Little Calumet River on Hawthorne’s north side. He’s investigating bringing in fish ladders to create a brook trout spawning area as has been done in LaPorte County.

•Board members said a park professional needs to be brought in to map a comprehensive master plan for Hawthorne, especially to help design the memorial garden that will honor former board member the late Bud Tilden as well as hometown hero Spc. Jim Butz of Porter, who was killed in Afghanistan. Wightman also said forms are nearly ready to sign up members of the new Bud’s Buddies friends of the park group.

•The Park Board voted 4-0 to pay Illinois Adhesive Bonding $2,850 to seal concrete cracks on the community building front porch, a continuing problem.

•Jim Miller said Hawthorne lost an ornamental pear tree near the gazebo in recent high winds, and three bat boxes to house up to 300 bats each will be erected in the park. Bats eat insects including mosquitoes.

•The December Park Board meeting was rescheduled to 6 p.m. Dec. 15.





Posted 11/16/2011