Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Porter Park board member Jeff Bailey raps trail route through Hawthorne Park

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

A formation of wooden stakes has snaked its way through the town of Porter cutting through Hawthorne Park which has met with the ire of Parks Board member Jeff Bailey.

Bailey took the opportunity at the end of Tuesday’s park board meeting to publicly vent his “disappointment” with the plan to route the eight foot-wide Orchard Pedestrian hike/bike asphalt trail through the park, entering along Franklin Street and curving along Ackerman Dr., around the volleyball court and back north to Waverly Road. He expects it to be a big disruption for park users.

“It’s going to tear up and destroy the heart of the park,” said Bailey, who worried that this would make portions of Hawthorne “unusable.”

The trail, which would also have two feet of berm on either side, starts at the State Park Little Field on League Lane, on the north side of Woodlawn Ave., then north along Waverly towards the park. Once north of Hawthorne, the trail crosses a pedestrian bridge over the Little Calumet River, erected years ago in anticipation of the pedway being built, and ends up at the edge of Orchard Apartments.

Bailey acknowledged that “it’s probably too late” to restructure the route since funds have been allocated, but implored the respective town boards to consider making adjustments.

Earlier in the meeting, a resident of Franklin Street said the trail will cut through her property and asked the board members present how she will be able to use her driveway.

“Where do you expect me to park my car?” the resident inquired.

Parks director Brian Bugajski said that since the stakes in the ground appeared Sunday, residents have been asking him similar questions but he does not have answers. He said the parks department is scheduled to meet with representatives from the consulting engineer, Haas & Associates of Michigan City, and the construction firm Rieth-Riley Construction, of Elkhart, to discuss the progress of the trail at a Thursday, July 25 meeting, which will not be open to the public.

From the audience, Porter Town Council and Redevelopment Commission president Greg Stinson said the public can voice their concerns to the Redevelopment Commission whose next regular meeting will be Tuesday, July 23, at 6 p.m. at the Porter Town Hall. The trail is an RDC project since it is the entity that provided funds for a 20 percent match for a grant administered through the Indiana Department of Transportation for construction.

As for the design of the trail, Stinson said the plans have been discussed going back a few years prior to when he joined the RDC and he was not privy to the discussions. His best guess, Stinson said, is that the concept for the route began as early as the late 1990s.

Resident Jennifer Klug, who has regularly attended and recorded town meetings since 1998, said she could not recall exactly when planning and discussions started but knows it was “before the last town council.”

Stinson said he would not “defend (the trail) as ideal” but there were meetings for public input years ago and the project is now “moving forward.”

Bailey asked why the trail could not be kept on the roadways instead of jogging through Hawthorne Park and other properties. Stinson replied that it would not be permitted under the requirements that INDOT must follow.

Joining the park board this past year, Bailey along with members Ross LeBeau and Chuck Kauffman said they do not remember hearing details about the trail.

Bailey said here is an opportunity for citizens to make a change in their government instead of just complaining and end up “never doing anything about it.”

“It’s quite different when you see what the effect of all this is,” said Bailey.

The board members said they plan on attending the upcoming RDC meeting.

A Chesterton Tribune article from February 2012 reports that park board members at that time had unanimously endorsed plans to route the Orchard Pedestrian Trail through Hawthorne Park anticipating that the project would help improve drainage and development of a landscaped Hawthorne memorial garden. The only board member from 2012 who is still serving, president Rondi Wightman, was absent Tuesday.

Bugajski said he is unsure of when construction is expected to begin.

Director’s report

During the business portion of Tuesday’s meeting, Bugajski had a lot to tell the board.

The Family 4th Fest was again a success this year, Bugajski said. He thanked all those involved, from town employees to volunteers, sponsors and vendors. Also lending a hand were the towns of Chesterton and Burns Harbor, the Duneland Business Initiative Group and the Chesterton Lions Club.

“It all went over well and nobody complained,” he said.

-- Bugajski said that over the 4th of July weekend, vandalism was done to the magnolia memorial tree in Hawthorne Park by “pretty much snapping it in half.” The board unanimously approved $200 out of the donations account to replace the tree.

-- Next Bugajski said that resident Joel Pisowicz had told the parks department that material and labor would be donated to construct nine concrete t-pads for the disc golf course at Hawthorne. The concrete pads would replace rubber mats and would “look more professional,” Bugajski said.

-- The board also agreed on using $250 from the donation fund to pay for the upcoming Peter Aglinskas concert on Wednesday, July 31, which is part of the department’s Sounds of Summer Concert Series. The money is part of what was left over from the $500 already approved to promote the concert series.

Bugajski said the series will feature the South Shore Brass Ensemble on Aug. 7 and the City Lights Band on Aug. 14. All performances start at 7 p.m. at Hawthorne Park.

-- The board approved Bugajski’s request for funds to repair a glider at Hawthorne Park not to exceed $800 and the overhead trolley jungle lines at Porter Cove not to exceed $200.

-- Bugajski said cooking classes for children ages 6-10 will be offered at the Community Center on Aug. 5, 6, and 8. The classes are limited to 10 participants. Classes for children ages 11-15 will be scheduled later. Those interested can call the parks department at 921-1687 for more information or check its Facebook page, he said.

In other business, the board scheduled the annual Boo Bash for Sunday, Oct. 27, and Porter’s Lights of Love for Sunday, Dec. 1, this year.

New member

The meeting opened with an introduction from Kaufman who was appointed by the Town Council to complete the unexpired term of Patty Raffin who resigned.

Kaufman, a Republican, said he works as a software designer and moved to Porter 10 years ago after growing up in Lake County.

“I love it here. It’s a nice town. I thought I could make a little bit of a difference,” Kaufman said.

 

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Posted 7/17/2013