The longest agenda item during the Porter Park Board’s two-hour meeting
Tuesday ended in no action.
Project manager Warren Thiede of Haas & Associates engineers described in
detail the newest plans for the portion of the Orchard Pedestrian Way
hike/bike trail and a companion drainage project that both would run through
Rather than an outright purchase of the land needed, the town has proposed
seeking a permanent easement from the Park Board with no compensation. Bill
Jones representing the town was present to discuss the easement.
In addition to Hawthorne, the Park Board owns an undeveloped parcel west of
Waverly Road between Lincoln and Franklin streets often used as overflow
parking for large park events. The parcel is part of the trail/easement
At the discussion’s conclusion, Park Board member Patty Raffin moved to
approve Haas’ proposed plan for the trail with easements with the exception
of further consideration regarding ingress/egress for the property along
Franklin. No one seconded the motion.
Jones earlier had recommended the board’s attorney review the easement
proposal. Board president Rondi Wightman declared the matter tabled.
Thiede initially said the town needs a decision from the Park Board to keep
the project moving. The trail is slated for 2013 construction but a final
tracing of the plans is due early this fall.
A factor that could modify the drainage design is whether the Indiana
Department of Transportation, which is administering the federal grant
project, will approve the proposed drainage solution for water generated
south of the Amtrak line near Waverly Road and Woodlawn Avenue. Even if
INDOT rejects that part of the plan, said Thiede, an easement for the trail
itself still is needed.
The meeting ended with board member Jessie Campaniello congratulating park
superintendent Jim Miller and his wife, park administrator Stephanie Miller,
for their planned retirements effective Dec. 31. Campaniello said it’s
helpful they told the board early so they can be part of a smooth transition
to new management.
Stephanie Miller told the board that announcement was premature.
Wightman said the board accepted the resignations. Raffin said the board
needs to continue with its research on how to restructure the Park
Department and consult its attorney.
After the meeting Jim Miller said, “I’m not committed to anything and
nothing’s firm with me,” adding that the matter shouldn’t have been brought
The board met in closed executive session June 4 to discuss a job
performance evaluation of individual employees. Dec. 31 Jim Miller will have
been with the Park Department 24 years and Stephanie Miller 20 years.
Stephanie Miller later told the Chesterton Tribune that they wrote
retirement letters, but they didn’t agree to a retirement that includes a
restructure of positions later this year while still employed.
Jeanne Boehlke representing the Duneland Seniors group gave a status report
on how the club has grown in its first six months. She gave credit to
Wightman for her initial organizational efforts and for her continued
publicity about the group’s activities and plans that help promote interest.
Boehlke also thanked the Millers for their helpful assistance, and said the
seniors are indebted to the Park Department for allowing them to meet
Wednesdays in the Hawthorne community building at no charge. Paid
memberships number about 70, and there are about 45-50 regular attendees,
She explained she’s coordinated activities as a member of the interim board
initially appointed, and the group is in the process of organizing as a club
Boehlke said to show their appreciation, the seniors try to be a resource to
help the park, having participated in activities like filling Easter eggs,
and they plan to do more. Raffin thanked Boehlke for her efforts to organize
the Duneland Seniors.
In other business, Zathoe Sexton won board permission for purple ribbons to
be placed on Hawthorne trees in connection with the July 14-15 Duneland
Relay for Life. The ribbons will be taken down in a timely manner.
In her capacity representing Globe Star, LLC, Sexton won permission for the
agency to conduct a pilot summer park program at Hawthorne’s west shelter
for individuals with disabilities. Programming will include crafts, games
and other activities to build relationships and social skills. Classes will
be Aug. 6 through Aug. 10 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. each day. The fee is $15
with scholarships available.
Also approved for a representative of Prevent Child Abuse in Porter County
was a rental at Hawthorne with a waiver of fees. The group plans to promote
its message of child protection and well-being by hosting a contest July 28
from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for the best lemonade stand. Celebrity judging and
people’s choice awards will be given.
Sexton returned as a member of the Bud’s Buddies friends of the parks group
to report a balance of $1,250 after donations from Shelton Fireworks, Third
Coast Spice Cafe, Anton Insurance, Haas & Associates, Tilden & Tilden,
Wilson Management, Raffin Construction and McColly real estate.
Sexton said the first summer Hawthorne concert June 13 drew 166 spectators,
and Raffin thanked Westchester Public Library for sponsoring the event.
Additional free Hawthorne concerts are planned for July 11 and Aug. 8 with
Robert Vodnoy as artistic director. Picnicking is encouraged.
Board members reported the June 15 Summer Safety Fest at Hawthorne drew 300
people to the inaugural event. Raffin credited Porter town departments for
their assistance and support, and the Burns Harbor Fire Department was
commended for an extrication demonstration with firefighters in full
turn-out gear despite the extreme heat.