Despite having earned degrees in History and Historic Preservation, Brian
Bugajski says the job he had in college was his favorite.
He enjoyed doing summer maintenance for four years with the Town of Cedar
Lake’s Park Department because “I felt like I was giving back to the
Bugajski, 29, plans to bring his enthusiasm for interacting with the public,
working outdoors and being a steward of the community’s backyard to his new
job as the Town of Porter’s first director of parks. Bugajski began in that
position Jan. 31.
The director’s expanded job description is part of a reorganization of staff
in the Porter Park Department. Bugajski was chosen over more than 30
applicants, in part due to his management skills, grant writing experience,
recreation background and passion for civic service.
Although he grew up in Cedar Lake in Lake County, Bugajski said the first
time he visited Porter’s Hawthorne Park was when he came for his job
interview there. It was already dark but he said the Park Department’s
website/Facebook photos and information showed it was a well-cared-for area
with festivals and activities going on.
Since starting his new job, Bugajski said he’s even more impressed with what
He anticipates his first year will be a learning experience of how the Town
of Porter works. So far Bugajski said he’s been very inspired to see the
number of festivals planned at Hawthorne and the rentals booked for use of
its facilities and grounds.
Bugajski said eventually he’d like to move forward in making improvements at
Porter’s five other parks now in various stages of development.
He also said he’d like to pull some technology into Hawthorne Park --- like
being able to scan a code on a tree and have information about it pop up on
a smartphone or tablet --- to interest children in nature and science.
Bugajski wants to build upon his past experiences and bring those
professional skills to a transitional time for the Porter Park Department by
working with Park Board members and staff. Porter’s long-time former park
superintendent Jim Miller now fills the new position of trails/parks and
facilities specialist, and the Park Board is being expanded to five members.
Bugajski begins his job at a busy time; needed drainage reconstruction at
Hawthorne will be done, and it’s anticipated later this year the Orchard
Pedestrian Way hike/bike trail through the park will break ground. Also, the
need to draft a Hawthorne master plan has been discussed as part of a
proposed upgrade of Porter’s nearby downtown.
The new director said he wants to build on existing relationships Porter
Parks has with groups like the Lakeshore Drifters 4H Club and the
Westchester Seniors that both meet at Hawthorne’s community building. “The
more volunteers you have and people in the parks, the more pride you have
Bugajski’s Master of Science degree in Historic Preservation from Ball State
University’s College of Architecture and Planning led to his most recent
position as project manager in the City of Lafayette’s Community Development
Department, where he also took on the role of the city’s Historic
Last year his wife Kristi was named an assistant professor of Biology at
Valparaiso University, so Bugajski said when he saw the Porter Parks job
posting he knew it was something he wanted to pursue, especially because of
Porter’s small-town atmosphere.
He will be introduced Feb. 12 to the Porter Town Council and will attend his
first Park Board meeting Feb. 19.
Bugajski believes parks serve a wide range of human needs: they’re where fun
happens, and where candlelight vigils take place when tragedy occurs.
"I want to be a resource to the community. I want to get out in the
community and find out what people want because truly the park is their