Chesterton Tribune

Porter hears pleas for more parks

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Three residents from two subdivisions asked the town of Porter Park Board on Tuesday for expanded recreation in their respective neighborhoods. In both cases money was a main stumbling block. The requests will be discussed again at the May 3 meeting.

Mike Perkins of Woodlawn Acres north of Woodlawn Avenue said two lots there now owned by the Chesterton/Duneland Building Trades may be going on the market and he urged the Park Board to consider purchasing them because there’s interest in his subdivision for a park.

Perkins said the lots are partially wooded and contain a ravine possibly requiring a fence. After the meeting he said there’s no continuous sidewalks so children would be able to walk safely to Hawthorne Park from the subdivision.

Board President Bud Tilden said the park doesn’t have any money for land acquisition but could request the town’s new grant writer to look for funding elsewhere. Tilden made the same comment to Carrie Ailes, a resident of Dune Meadows subdivision north of U.S. 20. Six months ago she presented a petition signed by 16 property owners who want improvements at the currently undeveloped park there.

Tuesday, Ailes asked if litter around the pond near the park could be collected by the Park Department, and what the status was of park upgrades.

In late 2003, 13 Dune Meadows property owners petitioned the Park Board not to build a 30-foot by 40-foot play structure then planned for the small park. Responding to their wishes, the board placed development of Dune Meadows last on its five-year master plan. “It’s behind other things right now. When you miss your timing, it’s tough to get back on track,” Park Superintendent Jim Miller told Ailes last night.

She said in 2003 the planned tot lot’s proximity to the street was a concern. Low-impact amenities, even if benches to start, are needed now, according to Ailes. “I think a good portion of the residents want something there.” Subdivision resident Becky Mateja, also present, said a majority of neighbors do want the park improved, she suggesting a phased plan for improvements.

Miller said he’d see to it the litter is picked up around the Dune Meadows park, and he announced that Indian Springs Park on Beam Street is open for the season where debris left from the winter also will be removed.

Miller presented plans for the renovation of the main entrance to the Hawthorne Park community building, a project discussed since 2002. The existing porch roof will be saved, the porch itself extended by four feet, the current bank of multiple steps removed and the soil backfilled and compacted so new, user-friendly steps, landings and a handrail can be built to code. The final step into the building will be eliminated. Outside stairs to the lower level will be removed and doors there sealed off.

Said Park Board member Nancy Whisler of the upgrade, “We’ve needed it for a long time.”

Miller said he will have copies of the plans made for the Town Council so its members can review them before the project is put out to bid. The park will receive approximately $50,000 this year as its share of the town’s Porter County income tax revenue; additional funds could come from the park’s 2005 budget.

Through the first 11 months of 2004, park rentals including the community building generated $17,175. Miller said, “I hate to disrupt the flow of people coming and going but we’ll all benefit from beautifying the building.” The community building will be available for rental and use during the renovation because guests can enter through the handicapped-accessible west entry, which will get minor repairs itself.

The Park Board voted 3-0 with member Juan Magana absent to accept the $2,800 proposal of Boyd Construction to make repairs where pavement has shifted creating uneven elevations. Also approved unanimously was the $2,700 purchase of recreational-grade mulch and additional waterproofing materials for Hawthorne and Porter Cove parks to be used by the community-based Rebuilding Together, which will provide labor for the maintenance projects on the group’s annual work day.

At the suggestion by park liaison and Town Council member Sandi Snyder, it was agreed Park Administrator Connie Goysich will be directly supervised by Miller. When she was hired in 2001, the Park Board indicated she would report to its members, however, “Usually if there’s a problem I call Jim anyway,” Goysich said Tuesday.

Tilden said the current arrangement has never been a problem and Whisler said maybe the town attorney should look into the matter, but Snyder said state law requires assistants to report to the park superintendent. “It could become an issue we could avoid by doing it right. It’s a technicality we need to straighten out,” explained Snyder, who said the town attorney has been consulted.

Said Tilden, “If that’s the law, we have no choice.”


Posted 4/6/2005