Chesterton Tribune


Porter Park Board stands by plans to restructure park management

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The public turned out again Tuesday in support of 24-year Porter Parks superintendent Jim Miller, who submitted his resignation earlier this year but subsequently rescinded it.

Park Board members appear firm in having accepted the initial resignation. Stated board president Rondi Wightman, “We made our plans moving forward based on that decision.”

Board member Patty Raffin said it’s not an ouster; it’s a restructuring.

Miller thanked those speaking on his behalf. “My heart is here and always will be here. I hope and plan to continue to serve the public.”

As it did last month, the board indicated it plans to conduct meetings, some open to the public, on restructuring the Park Department.

Miller’s wife Stephanie has been parks administrator for 20 years; she earlier submitted her resignation and plans to retire at year’s end. Last night, she told Park Board members she took issue with comments made last month that it’s the board that drives park programming.

“I want the public to know Jim and I take part in every event in this park,” said Stephanie Miller.

Speaking during public comment on Jim Miller’s behalf were Terry Gault, Nancy Bailey, Flavia Cheng, Kathleen Flory-Smith, Becky Maranto and Karen Pisowicz. Some commended Stephanie Miller as well.

“I really am heartfelt when I say you should reconsider replacing (Jim) and leave things the way they are,” said Bailey. Cheng and Joyce Gaylord won board approval to continue offering yoga classes at the Hawthorne community center twice a week, and Cheng commended Miller during her presentation.

A Chesterton resident, Flory-Smith asked the Park Board to reconsider its course saying, “You cannot buy loyalty.”

Raffin said Miller does a beautiful job as superintendent, but he’s the one who resigned first. Flory-Smith asked why members can’t accept Miller’s change of heart. “I don’t have an answer to that,” said Raffin.

She stated the matter has nothing to do with work; it’s about funding programs and creatively coming up with ways to do that so the Park Department can grow and keep Hawthorne the jewel of Porter.

Bailey, a Hawthorne neighbor, said Miller keeps the grounds immaculate and it will be hard to find someone else willing to devote seven days a week to the job. She also cautioned against the board allowing too many festivals at Hawthorne.

Several festivals and fundraisers are planned there next month.

Gary Cutter told the board he has volunteered the last five years to organize a road race as a Parks Department benefit but received little cooperation. Wightman urged him to bring firm plans back to the board with a new proposal.

In other business Tuesday:

• Pisowicz won approval to have a rummage sale to benefit Opportunity Enterprises this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hawthorne east shelter.

• Miller said an electrician who wishes to remain anonymous installed service to the new Hawthorne pole barn for the cost of parts only for a $4,000 savings.

• Wightman invited “people here claiming all this passion for the park” to help secure donated items for the Porter’s Perfect Pint festival’s silent auction Oct. 6 at Hawthorne that will benefit the Porter Parks and Fire departments.

• Park Board member Nikki Crist said arrangements are being made to have a smart-phone app allowing credit/debit cards to be used for payment at the event.

• Duneland Seniors board member Alice Cloonan thanked both Millers, Wightman and Phyllis Simko for helping make the recent Health Fair such a big success.

• Park Board member Jessie Campaniello was absent.



Posted 9/19/2012