Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton Park Board looks to big bang/small buck projects

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Proceeds from the $2-million park bond issued late in 2015 have been exhausted, invested in a wide variety of improvements throughout the Chesterton Parks system: brand-new playground equipment and a new restroom at Dogwood Park; the splash pad at Chesterton Park; rehab of Waskom and Kipper parks; and the boxcar restroom at Thomas Centennial Park, among other high-profile projects.

So, in the New Year 2020, the Park Board is now wondering: What’s next?

Whatever it is, though, will have to be done on something of a shoestring, with a lot of bang for a little buck, for as Superintendent Bruce Mathias made clear at Tuesday meeting of the Park Board, “We don’t have the money we had. We’re back to the regular Park Department budget.” And, of course, to whatever moneys are currently in, or might be donated to, the Gift Fund.

Member Paul Shinn, accordingly, suggested the wisdom of applying for a partnership this year with Duneland Building Together. The application for a project is due Jan. 31, however, so Shinn urged his colleagues to get cracking on ideas. “We could do some work in Coffee Creek Park,” he said. “Or it could be something else.”

Shinn is also hopeful of scheduling another couple of cleanup days at Coffee Creek Park. Two were held last year, and huge amounts of scrub brush were cleared and chipped. Mark Hopkins, owner of Hopkins Ace Hardware, played a major role last year in organizing the cleanups and equipping them, and he was in attendance at Monday’s meeting. “We can keep chipping away there,” he said. “Maybe this year work on the pond,” possibly borrowing the Stormwater Utility’s newly acquired flail mower for the powerful and efficient removal of scrub, small trees, and other vegetation.

Hopkins also advised seeking grants and enlisting other volunteer support. “Some folks at NIPSCO are interested (in the work at Coffee Creek Park) and so are some Boy Scout troops,” he told the board.

Shinn liked the notion of grant funding and asked Hopkins and town staff to be on the lookout for opportunities. “Anything that we’re missing that’s out there.”


In other business, at Mathias’ request, members voted unanimously to solicit quotes--or bids, if appropriate--for the demolition of the old Park Department offices and maintenance shop on the east side of 23rd Street.

At the same time, Mathias proposed the construction of a new storage building at the Park Department compound on the west side of 23rd Street. It would be approximately 80’ x 40’ in size and enclosed and used mostly for the storage of fleet vehicles and other equipment. The current storage facility--only 35’ x 40’--is completely full, Mathias said.

Indiana Lightning Baseball

Meanwhile, members voted unanimously to grant use of one baseball field at Dogwood Park West and one at Dogwood Park East, each for four hours one day a week, to the two recently established Indiana Lightning travel teams.

Both teams will practice on the same day: from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Dogwood West; and from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Dogwood East.

Indiana Lightning was originally affiliated with State Park Little League but is now independent and needs a new practice field.

Members also voted unanimously to accept a $250 donation from Indiana Lighting to the Park Gift Fund.

Duneland Diamond Baseball

Members similarly voted unanimously to grant use of the baseball field at Chesterton Park to the Duneland Diamond organization, comprised of four spring teams, four fall teams, and two adult teams.

In lieu of fees, Duneland Diamond will continue to maintain and upgrade the field. Dan Ameling of Duneland Diamond told the board that last year the brick backstop behind home plate was completed; something like half of the mulching around the field done, with the help of Rebuilding Together Duneland; and 14 trees planted along South Fifth Street and West Porter Ave., through a grant awarded by the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. In 2020, Ameling said, work will begin on the infield dirt and drainage.

Last year two Duneland Diamond teams made the All-Stars, Ameling noted, and both advanced to state competition.

New Position

At President Candy Tucker’s recommendation, members voted unanimously to establish--and advertise for--a new full-time laborer’s position, with the idea of making the hire by March 30.

“The parks are growing,” Tucker said. “There’s no doubt about it, with the prospect of a new park developed with impact fees. I think it’s time to hire the next full-time employee.”

“No later than the end of March,” Tucker added, “so there’s time for the employee to receive the proper training on equipment.”

Christmas Decorations

Mathis also reported that the Christmas decorations in Thomas Centennial Park “are coming down.”

“Everything looked beautiful this holiday season,” Member Mark Dickinson noted.

Election of Officers

Members opened the meeting by electing officers for 2020.

By unanimous votes, Tucker was elected president; Wendy Marciniak, vice-president; and Shinn, secretary.



Posted 1/9/2020




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