Chesterton Tribune



County Park Board willing to take Center Township land donation

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The Porter County Park Board recently expressed its willingness to accept the Kilmer Property in north Center Township as a donation following a lobby from a group of citizens looking to raise money to purchase the property to save it from development.

At the Park Board’s last meeting, Andrea Proulx Buinicki, said she and a group of other neighboring property owners are looking to raise funds and make an offer to buy 13 of the 17.4 acres south of Rogers Lakewood Park, which is zoned medium density single family residential.

A 40-lot subdivision has been proposed on the parcel, and the group of residents is concerned about contaminated drainage to Loomis and Spectacle Lakes, as well as increased traffic. They proposed that the Parks Department manage the property if they can scrounge up the funds to buy it.

Board President Craig Kenworthy said that the Board’s land acquisition and development committee favors accepting such a gift. Parks Foundation President Brian Waisanen said the Foundation also voted to partner with the group in its efforts to acquire the property and turn it over to the Park Board.

Kenworthy warned the group that the Board’s willingness to take on the property must come with the understanding that even a simple trail network and a parking lot requires funding the Board doesn’t have available right now. “This piece of property, even as a gift, may sit idle for a while. You’re not gonna get some fancy trail park right away.”

Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos told the group the property could be eligible for both Recreation Trails Program and Land and Water Conservation Fund grants, depending on how the acquisition goes and if some crucial federal legislation pushes more funding toward the LWCF.

Buinicki asked what people can do about that legislation. Lenckos said residents can call their senators to voice support for the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Staff Report

Lenckos reported that the 2019 Program Guides went out and have gotten positive feedback already. “Good news is the phones literally started ringing the next day,” Lenckos said, reporting that summer camps are already 25 percent full.

Construction on the Horton Children’s Center, the grain bin project, is coming along well. Interior work is underway while Chester, Inc. and their subcontractors wait for warmer weather to complete certain projects, according to Lenckos.

After a concerned resident brought up the use of pesticides on Parks properties at the last meeting, Lenckos has also been investigating the ways various entities form policies about pesticide application. Lenckos reported that forming such policies is difficult because the use of pesticides is governed by regulatory agencies and directions for use.

Kenworthy and member Drew Armstrong specifically pointed out Glyphosate, which has made headlines recently for being found in trace amounts in popular beer and wine brands. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, a common broadleaf spectrum product used to control invasive or undesirable plant species.

Lenckos said he’s had trouble getting input from fellow Parks officials on the matter of using Glyphosate. “Frankly several of them were unwilling to discuss it.”

“They’re not interested in having that conversation because it’s so embedded into restoration best practices and land management best practices, if the ship gets steered toward not using Glyphosate, the repercussions will be significant because there’s not a reasonably priced alternative that does what it does,” said Lenckos.

Kenworthy said he’s skeptical of people saying Glyphosate isn’t harmful when the same belief used to be common about asbestos. “I’m worried about our staff, our patrons, and our environment,” he added.

Armstrong said, “Until we get something hammered out here, I want to make sure whoever is applying it out there is a licensed applicator, and we’re following the label very closely.”

Lenckos said Parks Horticulturist Matt Brown is the Department’s licensed applicator.

Lenckos also made a reminder that the Board will not meet in March. The next County Park Board meeting will be the first Thursday in April.


Posted 3/4/2019





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