Chesterton Tribune

 

 

County Parks look to new future with historic power group at Sunset Hill

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Members of the Northern Indiana Historical Power Association, or NIHPA for short, applauded as the Porter County Park Board on Thursday indicated they are open to discussing a new multi-year lease that would strengthen their partnership.

The discussion centered on whether or not the board would let the annual lease it has with NIHPA automatically renew. As board attorney Dave Hollenbeck explained, the board had until June 30 to decide whether or not it would like to make changes before the deadline. If nothing is done, the lease would by default be extended until Jan. 1, 2014, he said.

Board member David Canright motioned to forgo the renewal and to drive the board to negotiate with NIHPA on agreements that would lead to a new multi-year lease, which previously existed.

From the floor, current NIHPA president Nick Misch said he favored a multi-year lease that he saw could give the group a chance to do more activities at Sunset Hill Farm and in turn help the parks department with its programming.

“We have an opportunity to collaborate on projects together,” he said.

But Misch said he has only received minimal communication from the parks department and members of the park board and wished that the lines of communication could be expanded.

The NIPHA group hosts an annual antique tractor and steam power show in the fall at Sunset Hill Farm and has also given hayrides to park visitors. It also holds its membership meetings at the park and in exchange it helps the parks department with grounds keeping throughout the year.

Board member Ruth Jarnecke, who is also a NIHPA volunteer, amended Canright’s motion, which ultimately resulted in the board voting to renew the annual lease which was received well by the NIHPA members.

The board however seemed to be in agreement to push toward a new multi-year lease in the future that would “hammer out” some new ways the two entities could collaborate. Board president Rich Hudson and member Annetta Jones said they would like the discussion to begin soon.

“I don’t know where Sunset Hill would be without (NIHPA),” said Hudson.

Board member Craig Kenworthy said he supports the group as he has seen they do a lot for Sunset Hill Farm. He volunteered to facilitate communication between NIHPA and his fellow board members.

As a NIHPA volunteer, Jarnecke said she offers her services “where needed.”

Misch after the meeting said the group has nothing specific in mind yet on the kinds of new activities and programs it would like to do at the parks as he would like to hear the ideas of park officials first.

 

Posted 6/7/2013