A new year means a
new set of goals for the Porter County Parks and Recreation Board.
The board compiled
a list at its meeting Thursday of items to focus on that includes the new
south county park just north of Kouts, the Raise-the-Barn education center
at Sunset Hill Farm, the Brincka-Cross Trails and Gardens expansion, the
prairie and pond restoration project at Sunset Hill and the Children’s
garden and playground.
A sixth priority
was added at the suggestion of board member Craig Kenworthy, to find a
permanent location for farm animals at Sunset Hill Farm.
Getting the board’s
commitment on the department’s goals and objectives was begun last year by
Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos. He said it helps build credibility for
the department as it seeks outside funding sources for projects.
Contributions and grants have been sought for the department as the County
Council has not had the means to allocate sufficient funding, Lenckos said.
Board members voted
5-0, in favor of the list, feeling the items are achievable. Absent from the
meeting was board member Ruth Jarnecke.
“We’ve got a lot to
do and I don’t want to fall down on any of them,” said board president Rich
Each of the six
board members was chosen to champion one priority. Hudson will lead on
Raise-the-Barn, David Canright on Brincka-Cross Trails and Gardens
expansion, Erik Kozuszek on the Children’s Playground and Garden, Kenworthy
on the new south county park, Jarnecke on the prairie-pond restoration and
Annetta Jones on the farm animals program.
It was also agreed
the current park committees will continue their work on land acquisition and
development, marketing and communication, budget and personnel, and the
recently formed farm animal committee for Sunset Hill Farm.
that given the County’s current “budget crisis,” it would be good to keep a
constant watch on what funds are incoming and what goes out.
“I think it we
would be good to get a better handle of what’s happening,” Kenworthy said.
“Knowledge is power.”
Canright said the
Budget committee should meet earlier this year to make a report to the board
so members can understand its finances.
From the audience,
parks supporter and environmentalist Charlotte Read asked that the board
keep moving on Brookdale County Park in Liberty Twp. and continue progress
on the Calumet Trail.
Her husband Herb
said he would encourage the board to keep seeking land along the Kankakee
River where walking trails could be created.
South county park
Planning for the
newly purchased south county property has officially begun now that the land
purchase has been finalized.
Kenworthy said a
half a dozen members of the park’s steering committee gathered near Kouts to
brainstorm on possible features for the property located on 63.5 acres
between County Roads 650S and 700S on the west side of Ind. 49.
showed the board three “paper doll” maps all containing multiple soccer
fields, baseball and softball fields, as well as a community building, well
houses, picnic and parking areas.
Kenworthy said the
discussion was “very positive” and more meetings will take place over the
next few weeks.
forward with some very passionate people attached to it,” he said.
He said more
amenities are being considered such as a three-quarter mile walking loop,
fountains and other landscaping. “That’s where everyone will be involved,”
In other business,
the board approved 5-0 a contract with Earth Source and Heartland
Restoration Services for up to $58,700 for the 3-acre pond and 28-acre
prairie restoration on the south end Sunset Hill Farm.
Most of the funds
will come from a $31,500 matching grant from the Lake Michigan Coastal
Program for wetland delineation and restoration of native vegetation. The
rest will be paid out of leftover miscellaneous funds set aside for Sunset
Hill Farm projects, Lenckos said.
Earth Source will
first remove invasive plant species and replace them with native plants,
improve the water quality, enhancing the environment for wildlife, and
provide training to park staff on how to continue care and maintenance of
the pond and prairie.
Lenckos said Friday
at noon will be the launch of a new County Parks website and for the first
time the public will be able to sign up and pay for programs electronically.
“We are moving
happily into the 21st century,” Lenckos said.
He thanked his
staff for their help in putting the site together. He said it was no extra
cost to the department and was accomplished by the CivicPlus tech group
which the County Commissioners had already contracted with.
In other reports,
Porter County Parks Foundation president David Yeager said progress is
continuing on the proposed bird migratory sanctuary within the town limits
of Chesterton on Meridian Rd., across from Westchester Intermediate School.
The Foundation is
cooperating with various groups such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and the
Northern Indiana Migratory Bird Association. Delineation and analysis of the
wetlands is underway, Yeager said.
about the sanctuary can be found at PCParksFoundation.com
report also mentions a desire to work with the park department on the south
county park development, as it can raise funds with its 501(C)(3) status.
would also like to see a linear park for equestrian trails and dog park
along the Kankakee River.
Indiana Historical Power Association president Nick Misch said that he plans
to meet with planner Ray Joseph about aspects of the new Exhibit B
agreement, including a museum at Sunset Hill Farm.
Also on Thursday,
the board passed a resolution paying tribute to the efforts of former park
board member Rebecca Tomerlin, who served from January 2010 to December
Hudson read the
resolution expressing gratitude for Tomerlin’s “dedication, commitment and
diligence” to improving the quality of life for Porter County residents.
appointed by the County Council and was an active member on the land
acquisition and development committees.
honor, Tomerlin said she is “really glad there is a good group of people to
move the county parks system forward.”