Following a lengthy presentation Monday, Porter Park Board members said they
want more information about plans to relieve occasional Waverly Road
flooding by routing stormwater through Hawthorne Park.
Porter director of engineering Matt Keiser and Warren Thiede of Haas &
Associates engineers provided some answers but agreed to return to the Sept.
21 Park Board meeting with more.
The flooding to be addressed is on Waverly south of the Amtrack tracks where
after heavy rain the road ponds on the west side.
Keiser said some swales at Hawthorne would be modified as a natural drainage
way to the nearby Little Calumet River, but board members Patty Raffin and
Rondi Wightman expressed concern that doing so might make those areas
unusable as park land.
They also questioned if the swales would breed mosquitoes and leave standing
water creating an attractive nuisance for children. Park superintendent Jim
Miller asked if the swale system would experience negative impacts when the
Little Calumet rises above its banks and backs up at the outflow into the
A prime concern was whether the drainage changes would create new liability
for the park. Wightman said she doesn’t want something tragic to happen.
Thiede said some swales could be 6 1/2 to 7 feet deep but be 50 feet wide
from top of the bank to top of the bank at a 3-to-1 slope that still could
Keiser said it’s more a matter of embracing the stormwater plan and working
with it, like placing large limestone rocks, than seeing it as a negative.
Rather than just conveying stormwater in a closed drainage pipe over a
35-second duration, he explained, it will take the water 5 to 10 minutes to
clear away through the swales and improve its overall water quality.
But that will leave sediments, oils and hydrocarbons along the route.
Wightman asked how long those will be left in the park’s swales. Thiede said
over time it will collect and be a maintenance issue.
Raffin reminded Keiser and Thiede of the September, 2008 heavy rains that
inundated Hawthorne west of the gazebo ponding for days creating an unsafe
situation. Keiser said under the redesigned system, in 48 hours water will
be gone so no mosquitoes will breed.
Thiede downplayed the Little Calumet’s propensity to overflow, but Raffin
said it happens a good four times a year. To avoid reverse flooding, he said
a flap gate could be intalled but that temporarily would slow down water
Raffin said the depth of the swales was disturbing. “That’s very
substantial. It’s a park. There are people around it all the time.” Keiser
said he and Thiede would return next month with cross sections and
elevations to better illustrate the proposed system.
Park Board member Becky Maranto said there are cons in each scenario and it
will be up to members to decide which ones are less toxic to the park.
In a related matter, Thiede said it now appears a 10 to 12-car parking lot
will be built in Hawthorne’s northeast corner funded by the planned Orchard
Pedestrian Way hike/bike trail, eliminating the need for the park to add a
parking lot in that area.
Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission executive
director Lorelei Weimer distributed to Park Board members copies of the new
Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail guide, five years in development.
Weimer said approximately 50 nature-based and historical sites were chosen
to highlight and draw tourists away from the dunes beaches and into the
local communities and beyond to extend their vacation stays.
The guide’s information has been added to the PCCRVC’s website and expanded
there with a social-networking feature allowing people to blog what’s going
on at the attractions, venues and trails. Where the guide might suggest
generally when the lupines are in bloom, said Weimer, bloggers can relay
info in real time.
Now that the sites have been chosen, she added, PCCRVC is working with site
managers to develop them where possible to be more experiential for
visitors, like buffering winds at a birdwatching spot.
Wiemer called Hawthorne Park, one of the guide’s listed attractions, the
biggest jewel in downtown Porter.
Some board members indicated they would meet with Weimer this Friday at 9:30
a.m. at the visitor center to explore joint efforts. Weimer welcomed the
suggestion that Park Department info be linked on the PCCRVC website.
Ash trees coming
Although the bid
was $25 higher, the Park Board voted 4-0 to accept the $1,900 proposal of
Owens & Sons to remove four ash trees at Hawthorne due to emerald ash borer
infestation. Miller said 16 ash trees there need to come out eventually.
proposal was $1,875 and that of Lumberjack $2,650.
recommended Owens because it has removed trees recently for the Porter
Public Works Department, and because they offered a price to bring down
other trees that Park Department employees would cut up.
matter, the board split 3-1 agreeing to ask the Town Council for
approximately $6,000 from the park’s 2011 share of CEDIT revenue; the money
would be used to concrete the gravel floor of the new $19,973 park pole
Miller said the
fact the park won’t have to build the northeast Hawthorne parking lot will
free up some cash. Proposals for the pole-barn concrete work range from
$6,010 to $6,458.
from the Town Council Jon Granat said, “You kind of need concrete in there
before winter time.” According to Wightman, who voted no, “I’m very nervous
spending that kind of money right now.”