Chesterton Tribune



County Park Board OKs sharing roof costs

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The Porter County Park Board approved sharing the cost of a new roof and new coat of paint on the Norwest Indiana Historical Power Association (NIHPA) shop building at its meet last week.

The NIHPA shop is an often used building at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, and its been in need of a new roof for a while. Board member Drew Armstrong reported materials and install for the new white sheet metal roof will cost $12,600, and the same company will pressure wash and repaint the building for $2,800 for a total of $15,400.

Armstrong proposed the Park Board put up half the cost, or $7,700 from the Park building and maintenance line, in a move that’s beneficial to both the Park Department and NIPHA since finances are uncertain due to the as-of-yet unknown economic fallout from COVID-19.

“An opportunity has arisen,” Armstrong said. “If we could pony up half of the money for these repairs to our building, NIHPA would be able to pony up the other half, thus doubling the value of both our building and showing good faith in a partnership that’s been ongoing for years.”

Board President Craig Kenworthy said a 50/50 match sounded good to him. Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos said there is about $35,000 available in the Parks building and maintenance line item, and the money is free so far except for two expenses he anticipates: approximately $10,000 for paving the road at Sunset Hill with the help of the County Highway Department, and approximately $2,800 for barn removal at Brincka-Cross gardens.

Board member Bryan Waisanen said he’s especially inclined to keep up with Park maintenance since more people are getting outdoors in the wake of COVID-19. “I want to make sure they have the nicest parks, clean and well kept, and I think we’d have a hard time moving forward, potentially if our budget is slashed next year, if we’re not showing that we’re taking care of them,” he said.

Staff Report

Staff training for Camp Funset started Monday with two outreach nurses from the County Health Department giving a presentation on COVID-19 safety. Lenckos also coordinated with the Health department to have counselors tested for COVID-19 and to get feedback on the camp safety plan. “I am just amazed and impressed by the County Health Department and grateful for the support they’ve given us,” Lenckos said.

Lenckos also said his staff have done a great job communicating with parents about the new precautions and thanked staff for making camp possible. “Thank you to all of our staff. They’ve been putting in a considerable amount of work,” he said. “And I really appreciate the board’s diligence on all of this,” he added.

Camp Funset opens Monday, June 15 with extra precautions such as the extra staff training, hourly handwashing and sanitization after activities, smaller groups, lower enrollment, and social distancing. Indoor spaces used by campers will not be available for rental until camp is over.

In related business, the Board approved Lenckos to transfer approximately $2,900 from event expenses to reimburse the IT Department for a new laptop it provided the Park Department and to spend $2,000 on COVID-19 summer camp precautions, including personal protective equipment and potential COVID-19 testing costs for counselors.

Lenckos said budget-wise, the Park Department is doing okay despite losses in rental and special event revenue. Lenckos always factors a 15 percent cushion into the budget, and he anticipates it will remain intact.

Other Business

In other business, Kenworthy suggested the Board unload some of its property in Pine Township and consider expanding to other areas. Between the Brincka-Cross Gardens, the in-development Hawk Ridge property, and a recent donation, the Park Department has about 300 acres in Pine Township.

Kenworthy said unloading some land in Pine could enable the Board to better serve citizens in other townships. “Pine Township is one of the most diverse areas of the County, but it’s also one of the least populated. We have other areas of the county I think we might think about taking that money and serving,” he said.


Posted 6/12/2020





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