Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Porter residents asked to comment on 'bark park' idea

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By PAULENE POPARAD

Is a bark park in the Porter Park Department’s future?

Park Board members Tuesday engaged in preliminary discussion regarding a dedicated recreational area where owners can have fun with their canines. But while members agreed to collect more information, there’s something else they said they need.

Feedback from Porter residents.

“We need to feel out the community and see if people are interested,” said board member Becky Maranto. “I think this is a project that would take time to develop. It’s a very clever idea and something interesting to bring to the community.”

Board member Rondi Wightman, who takes her two dogs to a private dog park in Valparaiso, said several acres are needed; she noted the town has been offered five acres as part of the approved but unbuilt Trails of Porter housing development.

Wightman described how the Valparaiso bark park operates in a secured area with separate open spaces for unleashed small and older dogs, active larger dogs and a dog-training area. A membership fee is required, entry is by key card, dog shots must be current and owners clean up after their own dogs as necessary.

"Overall it’s just been a great, great experience,” Wightman said.

Park superintendent Jim Miller, drawing applause for starting his 20th year with Porter Parks, asked what the town’s liability would be. President Patty Raffin said the board would need to know how much of an investment the project would represent. Wightman offered to obtain more information.

A sure thing is the Saturday, Feb. 27 “Porter’s Got Game” free community game night at the Hawthorne Park community center from 6 to 8 p.m. Families and individuals are invited to enjoy bingo and classic board and card games. Participants may bring their own game favorites as well.

Light refreshments will be served. For more information or to RSVP contact 219-921-1687 or 219-617-1136. The popular Porter Easter egg hunt is slated for 1 p.m. March 27.

In other business, board members took a long-range look at how Hawthorne Park could be used after a leg of the planned Orchard Pedestrian Way hike/bike trail crosses through it. Miller was asked to do a conceptual drawing of a new multi-purpose building that would replace the west shelter and provide space for indoor restrooms, the park office and children’s programming.

The project, pending funding, isn’t contemplated until 2013. With the trail coming, the park has to adapt, said Raffin. “As space opens up we have to utilize what we have. We have to complement what the town has envisioned for us.” The board again called for public input on the proposal.

The Park Department hopes to build a new pole barn on Hawthorne’s east side this spring and a parking lot by the future bike trail next year. Miller said the park needs to have future projects firmed up to some degree in case funding becomes unexpectedly available.

In other business, fees were waived or reduced for three groups conducting approved events in Hawthorne Park.

First United Methodist Church of Porter was granted use of the gazebo for an Easter sunrise service, and Discovery Charter School use of all or part of the community building April 18 for an open house meet-and-greet. The new school will be located in the remodeled Canonie building north of U.S. 20 in Porter.

Narcotics Anonymous was granted a reduced fee of $100 for a members/family pot-luck with speaker April 30 in the community center, where the group meets regularly.

Park administrator Stephanie Miller said facilities rental was slow in January but picking up. She explained illness and the weather have prevented the senior citizens group from meeting in the community center recently, but activities will resume when able.

Two items briefly were discussed but unresolved. Town Council member Todd Martin had been helping the park launch a website but Wightman said she’s been unable to contact him about the status. Also, the board is awaiting legal advice from the town attorney regarding compiling a list of the park’s preferred caterers.

Maranto said there’s no deadline by which either project has to be completed. “We need to make sure we cover all our issues before we proceed.” She said she’s been using the town website to post announcements and coming events.

 

Posted 2/17/2010

 

 

 

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