The Porter County
Park Board is eager to build its relationship with the Northern Indiana
Historical Power Association, proposing a bigger role for NIHPA at Sunset
Hill Farm County Park.
Five board members
unanimously agreed Thursday to develop a new long-term agreement with the
non-profit group by the time its current lease is up on June 30.
For the past 20
years or so, NIHPA has had an annual lease that allows it to store antique
farm machinery at the park and hold its events there in exchange for a list
of services, also known as “Exhibit B.” Interest in a multi-year agreement
had been expressed about a year ago and some community members had voiced
their hopes the board would continue the partnership as NIHPA has provided
an educational event showing what rural life was once like.
enhancements to Exhibit B that were discussed in December included
additional maintenance tasks such as building and roof repairs and also
starting up a committee for a museum at Sunset Hill Farm.
Park Board member
Craig Kenworthy recommended the board pursue a continuing commitment, having
met with NIHPA members earlier in the week.
“This is a very,
very positive move to get our relationship solidified for the long term,” he
Richard Hudson expressed his approval of moving forward with a new
agreement. He said this would give NIHPA a “permanent home” at Sunset Hill
Farm, which he feels it deserves.
From the floor,
NIHPA President Nick Misch told the board he is “greatly appreciative” for
the motion as it puts his group’s concerns “at ease” about having a place at
Sunset Hill Farm.
“It’s our future
home to stay. Everyone (from NIHPA) is going to be thrilled,” Misch said.
Misch asked the
board for the opportunity to be included in discussions on new programs and
features at Sunset Hill Farm so it can help plan for those.
In other NIHPA
matters, Misch said the organization will be giving wagon rides during this
year’s Spring Out to Sunset event on Saturday, May 17. Also, the museum
committee has been actively meeting, he said.
The board held its
meeting at Brincka-Cross Gardens County Park in Furnessville and was given a
tour led by landscape architects of SEH Inc., Gregg Calpino and Jon Ruble,
of the new 1.6 miles of trail systems around the house and gardens and in
the recently acquired 46 acres.
Calpino and Ruble
said they are currently in the preliminary stage of engineering and are
gathering the necessary permits. They expect construction to be completed
sometime next year, and proposed routes have been staked out.
The trail network
is basically a series of interconnected loops, each with a different setting
or theme. Concrete pavers will be laid surrounding the Frank Lloyd Wright
inspired house of former residents William Brincka and Basil Cross.
Aggregate paths of
soft limestone will be constructed around the garden area with segments
leading to the hosta garden, the tickle garden, daylilies, daffodils, and
A large north loop,
about a half mile in length, will connect paths around the wooded and
wetland sections on the new land acquisition with timber boardwalks crossing
over places where there is water.
Calpino said each
path will “fit the character” of the park and with the loops hooking into
one another, a person could walk the paths in a number of combinations.
Superintendent Walter Lenckos said a map showing the trails will be posted
on the Park Department’s website.
Funding for the
trails came from a matching grant of $150,000 from the Department of Natural
Resources’ Recreational Trails Program.
At the start of the
meeting, Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos told the board the department
received a $9,900 grant this year from the Porter County Community
Foundation which will be used for development of programming.
The department has
the opportunity to apply for a matching grant of up to $200,000 with for the
Raise the Barn Project with the Department of Natural Resources.
Lenckos said he
will discuss partnering with the Porter County Parks Foundation who owns the
land. The land will be the match for the grant.
He also told the
board he looks to meet with representatives from the Northwest Indiana
Regional Development Authority (RDA) who may be willing to contribute funds
for the infrastructure needs of the Raise the Barn education center.
Name the Park
one name has been submitted for the new 63-acre park in south Porter County
on Ind. 49 just north of the Town of Kouts from fifth graders at Kouts
Elementary School -- Noland Park.
The students read
about Dr. Phillip Noland while researching the history of Kouts. Noland
treated residents during a three-week flu epidemic “without sleeping” in
1918, Kenworthy said.
The board is
expected to decide on a name, possibly this summer. Lenckos said Noland’s is
the only name submitted so far but other schools in south county can still
make their nominations.
that neighbors of the new park in south Porter County did not state any
major objections during an input meeting earlier this week at the Expo
The board voted 5-0
to ask the County Commissioners to create a non-reverting fund for the new
park to hold rent collected from farmers who will use the acreage to grow
crops until the park is developed. If created, the fund would be used
exclusively for development of the park.
Absent from the
meeting Thursday was park board member Annetta Jones.
Programs on the
In other matters,
Lenckos said he has continued to have “really good” discussions with John
and Mary Hodson of the Kankakee Valley Historical Society, who are
considering donating their property on the river to the Parks Department.
Lenckos said talks
indicate there could be educational and interpretive programming on the
Kankakee River by the parks department sometime in 2015.
The department will
be involved in this year’s annual KVHS Aukiki River Festival in August,
Sign ups for Camp
FUNset are ahead of where they were last year, Lenckos said, with one-third
of the spots filled.
register and make payments online on the Parks’ webpage on the County’s