Chesterton Tribune

 

 

County Parks to try again for Raise the Barn money; trail enhancements discussed

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Porter County Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos told county Park Board Thursday that he will be going to the County Council a second time to request funding for the long-delayed Raise the Barn project at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

A fractured Council last week voted 3-2 in favor of earmarking $1.5 million in hospital interest funds toward the proposed education and administration center, but fell short of the four votes needed.

At that meeting, Council members Jim Biggs, R-1st, and Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, told Lenckos they would not endorse the request until matters were straightened out with hiring nurses needed at the county jail and encouraged him to make the request again later.

During Thursday’s Park Board meeting, Lenckos gave no other updates. He said he hopes to have the center constructed next year in celebration of Sunset Hill Farm’s 80th year.

With board attorney David Hollenbeck away on business, no updates were given on the purchase and acquisition of 55 acres at the southeast corner of County Road 550 South and Ind. 49 in Morgan Twp., which has been eyed to be developed as a south county park with recreational sports fields.

The board last month authorized Lenckos to continue negotiating with the property owner towards a sale.

Lenckos said Hollenbeck will likely discuss the land purchase with the board at next month’s meeting. Board members Rebecca Tomerlin and Craig Kenworthy said the Land Acquisition and Development Committee will be meeting in the next few days.

Trails

Meanwhile, the trail systems at Brincka-Cross Gardens and Sunset Hill Farm may see some major changes in the near future.

Lenckos said he has moved forward with an application for a Recreational Trails Program grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which could benefit Brincka-Cross. The parks department applied for it last year but missed the grant by one point in the DNR’s rating system.

Lenckos said he has a better shot this year by adding a land acquisition plan to the application. The department has been in talks to purchase five acres from an adjacent property owner.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed, thinking positive,” said Lenckos.

The county parks can receive up to $150,000 from the RTP grant if it can provide a 20 percent match.

The grant funds would be used for new trails at the park and the land purchase, Lenckos said. He said he will be hearing back from DNR representatives in the next 30 to 60 days.

Park officials will hold a planning meeting on May 22 at Sunset Hill Farm to start work on a new trail map, Lenckos said.

The trails now are identified by colors but the parks department wants also to assign numbers to help new users to get “acclimated” on where things are in the park, Lenckos said.

On the subject of trails, parks supporter Charlotte Read spoke of news that the American Discovery Trail would cross through Porter County and inquired if the parks department would consider building a trail connection to the ADT.

ADT coordinators at an event in Portage last week said the trail will pass through south county near Kouts and Hebron. Lenckos said, as he understands it, the trail would be existing country roads and follow Ind. 8 between the two towns.

Board member David Canright said that the department does not have enough funds in its budget to create a whole new east-west trail system in south county and “it would be an arduous task” to acquire all the needed easements.

The ADT trail may be able to hook into the planned Dunes-Kankakee Trail, he said.

Greenhouse repairs

Lenckos informed the board that repairs had been done to the exterior of the greenhouse at Brincka-Cross Gardens. The department decided to do repairs after Kenworthy expressed concerns that there were sections of the greenhouse that were beginning to rot.

After 60 hours of work by a carpenter, Lenckos said the greenhouse now “stands out” from the house.

Parks supporter Herb Read suggested the idea of getting the state to designate the house as having historical significance to help preserve the house and avoid making alterations to bring it in line with current building codes.

Lenckos said Parks Planner Ray Joseph has talked with state officials about the historic designation and has found there are “pros and cons” to going that route.

In bloom

Parks horticulturist Matt Brown has finished with planting at Brincka-Cross and now is the time to see to see the flowers blooming, Lenckos said.

“The magnolia trees are in bloom, the daffodils are out, (Brincka-Cross Gardens) is the most fantastic place to be this week,” said Lenckos.

Also on Thursday, Northern Indiana Historical Power Association President Nick Misch told the board NIHPA would be offering hayrides at the Spring Out to Sunset Hill event, set for Saturday, May 18.

 

 

 

Posted 5/3/2013