Chesterton Tribune

Softball, baseball, soccer fields eyed for inclusion in Brookdale Park master plan

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

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 natural look.

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 financial resources.

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.

Posted 5/20/2010