Chesterton Tribune

Porter Park Board okays trail route through park

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The Porter Park Board unanimously endorsed a route for the planned Orchard Pedestrian Way hike/bike trail through Hawthorne Park, now slated for 2013 construction.

Tuesday’s decision advances projects on three fronts: design of the pedway trail itself; plans for companion drainage improvements at Hawthorne and along the trail route; and development of a landscaped Hawthorne memorial garden.

The 8 foot-wide asphalt trail will enter the park from the “bridge to nowhere” north of Hawthorne erected years ago west of Waverly Road in anticipation of the pedway being built. The trail will follow Ackerman Drive, curve around it near the community building before heading south on Hageman Avenue to Franklin Street, where the trail will proceed east to Waverly Road and eventually Woodlawn Avenue.

Park Board member Patty Raffin said unlike the new Porter Brickyard Trail that has gravel shoulders on either side, the pedway through Hawthorne will have grass shoulders instead.

Pedway construction likely will require the relocation of some disc golf tee baskets at Hawthorne. Raffin said having the trail in the park could lead to bike rentals there someday. Town Council president Greg Stinson, who attended the meeting, said eventually the trail network will allow its users to travel to Lake Michigan at the Indiana Dunes State Park via Porter’s leg of the planned Dunes Kankakee Trail.

Stinson said now that a Hawthorne route has been selected, it will be surveyed and a legal description prepared so the Park Board can consider granting a perpetual easement rather than outright sale to the town. Engineers also can refine drainage options to be presented to the Park Board, likely in March.

“We’re incredibly hopeful we won’t have to have open ditches in the park,” said board president Rondi Wightman of the drainage proposals.

In other business, the Park Board and park superintendent Jim Miller regretfully said they’ve abandoned any plans of having an ice skating rink at Hawthorne this unseasonably warm winter. “We’ve never been more ready,” said Miller.

Wightman and board member Jessie Campaniello thanked Porter department heads for helping Miller ready the rink. “I know it didn’t pan out but it was a great group effort,” said Campaniello.

Also Tuesday, representatives of State Park Little League and a Duneland Flyers 13-U team were granted permission to use the Hawthorne baseball field for practice and games this season. Both groups will coordinate their schedules, sign a use agreement and provide the required paperwork.

Park officials said it’s possible that volunteers will be able to operate the baseball concession stand, which has been undergoing a renovation.

Among other requests approved last night was that of John Beckman of Lake County Fish & Game, who has spearheaded a restoration of wetlands at the adjacent Little Calumet River. The board authorized Beckman to investigate if it would be feasible and what would be involved in creating a salmon spawning area at an active spring several feet higher than the nearby river.

Porter United Methodist Church was granted permission to host its traditional 7 a.m. Easter Sunday Service at the Hawthorne gazebo; the rental fee was waived. A reduced fee was approved for Narcotics Anonymous to host two family events in 2011 at the community building where NA meets.

For a six-month trial period a morning yoga group will be allowed to meet twice a week at the community building for $25 a month. Participation is open to the public and if the attendance increases, so might the rental fee, said board members.

Park administrator Stephanie Miller said Westchester Public Library has scheduled a summer community concert at the Hawthorne gazebo June 13 at 7 p.m. Miller is working with WPL staff to possibly host additional concerts there.

Board members discussed plans for the March 31 children’s Easter Egg Hunt at Hawthorne, which includes a visit from the Easter bunny, and for Thursday’s 7 p.m. inaugural meeting at the community building of the new Bud’s Buddies friends of the parks group, which is open to the public.

Jim Miller reported on maintenance and repair projects that are being pushed ahead of schedule due to the warmer weather. He thanked the Porter Public Works department for its cooperation on some of the work.


Posted 2/22/2012