Despite having abandoned hopes for a recreational grant with the Department
of Natural Resources, members of the Porter County Parks’ Land Acquisition
and Development committee will be getting their ducks in a row for Brookdale
Park’s master plan.
The committee on Tuesday decided it will create a subcommittee for the
master plan proposal. Subcommittee members will hold a meeting next Tuesday,
May 25, at 1 p.m. to meet with engineering and development groups to decide
what items to include in the final draft of the Request for Proposals for
the master plan.
Local landscape architect and park board member Jim Perkins presented
committee members and partners with a few details sketching some ideas
currently being brainstormed for the Brookdale Park project, listing some of
the passive and active activities.
Perkins included in the draft a plan for three softball fields, one baseball
field and three soccer fields, a perimeter jogging track that could feature
boardwalks, lighted parking areas and facilities, bathrooms, concession
stands, and a one-and-a-half to two acre building to be maintained by the
Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County. For the 17-acre passive area, ideas
being formulated include a natural area to study native plants that grow
along the wetlands and clearing and reshaping a ditch to give it a more
Perkins told the Chesterton Tribune on Wednesday the plans are not
set in stone yet and won’t be until the final draft of the master plan is
drawn up. He said the plans may be able to include an amphitheater and a
sledding hill if space is available. It was also suggested that the park
include a playing field to accommodate children with special needs.
The committee will reconvene the week after on June 1 before reporting to
the Park Board at their regular meeting on June 3.
Perkins said that the boundary and topographical survey work approved by the
park board is expected to be completed by Monday. A contract was agreed to
with E. J. Hutson and Associates of Chesterton for $7,000 in April.
Committee Chairman Richard Maxey said he received word from the county
commissioners saying they are in full support of the Brookdale project and
encouraged Maxey to apply for the DNR grant in 2011. Maxey said the
committee would not be able to apply this year for the master plan data will
not be ready in time for the June 1 deadline.
Maxey said he plans for a “massive” fundraising effort. A subgroup will look
into soliciting corporate sponsors. John Shepherd of the Porter County
Redevelopment Advisory Commission has agreed to help the committee seek out
The groups interested in partnering for the project -- Liberty Rec, the
Calumet Regional Striders, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chesterton, and the
Duneland Soccer Club – were reminded to draw up a written legal agreement
that could be approved by the park board. In the agreement, Maxey said,
should be details about what fields or areas the groups would like to
manage. He said the agreements should be kept simple yet serious seeing this
will be public property.
Maxey said the county park department is on the brink of fully acquiring the
65-acre site that lies between Meridian Rd. and CR 50W in Liberty Township
close to CSX Railroad and Liberty Township Elementary and Intermediate
Schools. The county has been in agreement with property owner Barney
Michaels to purchase the land in stages since 2007.
Committee members said they came across criticisms saying the Brookdale Park
is primarily just “a Chesterton park.” Parks Supervisor Mike Howton told the
Chesterton Tribune on Wednesday that the park will cater to all
county citizens young and old, restating the fact the park will have both
active and passive areas.
“The idea for putting the thing together is to have as many people enjoy it
as much they can,” said Howton.
One new face Tuesday was a baseball manager for the Valparaiso American
Legion Post 94, Joe Kusiak, who said the county has a diminishing number of
playing fields, especially ones that are lighted. Kusiak said all fields,
whether baseball, soccer, or football are “sorely” needed in Porter County
for the wellbeing of its youth.
“(Youth) need to have their hands in good things and if not, they’ll have
their hands in something else,” said Kusiak.
Also at the meeting was future Porter County Parks Superintendent Walter
Lenckos who said he was interested in coming up with solutions to the
challenges at hand. Lenckso spent a few days this week getting acquainted
with park supporters and projects. He will also be back for a few days next
week before officially taking his post on June 1.