A formation of wooden stakes has snaked its way through the town of Porter
cutting through Hawthorne Park which has met with the ire of Parks Board
member Jeff Bailey.
Bailey took the opportunity at the end of Tuesday’s park board meeting to
publicly vent his “disappointment” with the plan to route the eight
foot-wide Orchard Pedestrian hike/bike asphalt trail through the park,
entering along Franklin Street and curving along Ackerman Dr., around the
volleyball court and back north to Waverly Road. He expects it to be a big
disruption for park users.
“It’s going to tear up and destroy the heart of the park,” said Bailey, who
worried that this would make portions of Hawthorne “unusable.”
The trail, which would also have two feet of berm on either side, starts at
the State Park Little Field on League Lane, on the north side of Woodlawn
Ave., then north along Waverly towards the park. Once north of Hawthorne,
the trail crosses a pedestrian bridge over the Little Calumet River, erected
years ago in anticipation of the pedway being built, and ends up at the edge
of Orchard Apartments.
Bailey acknowledged that “it’s probably too late” to restructure the route
since funds have been allocated, but implored the respective town boards to
consider making adjustments.
Earlier in the meeting, a resident of Franklin Street said the trail will
cut through her property and asked the board members present how she will be
able to use her driveway.
“Where do you expect me to park my car?” the resident inquired.
Parks director Brian Bugajski said that since the stakes in the ground
appeared Sunday, residents have been asking him similar questions but he
does not have answers. He said the parks department is scheduled to meet
with representatives from the consulting engineer, Haas & Associates of
Michigan City, and the construction firm Rieth-Riley Construction, of
Elkhart, to discuss the progress of the trail at a Thursday, July 25
meeting, which will not be open to the public.
From the audience, Porter Town Council and Redevelopment Commission
president Greg Stinson said the public can voice their concerns to the
Redevelopment Commission whose next regular meeting will be Tuesday, July
23, at 6 p.m. at the Porter Town Hall. The trail is an RDC project since it
is the entity that provided funds for a 20 percent match for a grant
administered through the Indiana Department of Transportation for
As for the design of the trail, Stinson said the plans have been discussed
going back a few years prior to when he joined the RDC and he was not privy
to the discussions. His best guess, Stinson said, is that the concept for
the route began as early as the late 1990s.
Resident Jennifer Klug, who has regularly attended and recorded town
meetings since 1998, said she could not recall exactly when planning and
discussions started but knows it was “before the last town council.”
Stinson said he would not “defend (the trail) as ideal” but there were
meetings for public input years ago and the project is now “moving forward.”
Bailey asked why the trail could not be kept on the roadways instead of
jogging through Hawthorne Park and other properties. Stinson replied that it
would not be permitted under the requirements that INDOT must follow.
Joining the park board this past year, Bailey along with members Ross LeBeau
and Chuck Kauffman said they do not remember hearing details about the
Bailey said here is an opportunity for citizens to make a change in their
government instead of just complaining and end up “never doing anything
“It’s quite different when you see what the effect of all this is,” said
The board members said they plan on attending the upcoming RDC meeting.
A Chesterton Tribune article from February 2012 reports that park
board members at that time had unanimously endorsed plans to route the
Orchard Pedestrian Trail through Hawthorne Park anticipating that the
project would help improve drainage and development of a landscaped
Hawthorne memorial garden. The only board member from 2012 who is still
serving, president Rondi Wightman, was absent Tuesday.
Bugajski said he is unsure of when construction is expected to begin.
During the business portion of Tuesday’s meeting, Bugajski had a lot to tell
The Family 4th Fest was again a success this year, Bugajski said. He thanked
all those involved, from town employees to volunteers, sponsors and vendors.
Also lending a hand were the towns of Chesterton and Burns Harbor, the
Duneland Business Initiative Group and the Chesterton Lions Club.
“It all went over well and nobody complained,” he said.
-- Bugajski said that over the 4th of July weekend, vandalism was done to
the magnolia memorial tree in Hawthorne Park by “pretty much snapping it in
half.” The board unanimously approved $200 out of the donations account to
replace the tree.
-- Next Bugajski said that resident Joel Pisowicz had told the parks
department that material and labor would be donated to construct nine
concrete t-pads for the disc golf course at Hawthorne. The concrete pads
would replace rubber mats and would “look more professional,” Bugajski said.
-- The board also agreed on using $250 from the donation fund to pay for the
upcoming Peter Aglinskas concert on Wednesday, July 31, which is part of the
department’s Sounds of Summer Concert Series. The money is part of what was
left over from the $500 already approved to promote the concert series.
Bugajski said the series will feature the South Shore Brass Ensemble on Aug.
7 and the City Lights Band on Aug. 14. All performances start at 7 p.m. at
-- The board approved Bugajski’s request for funds to repair a glider at
Hawthorne Park not to exceed $800 and the overhead trolley jungle lines at
Porter Cove not to exceed $200.
-- Bugajski said cooking classes for children ages 6-10 will be offered at
the Community Center on Aug. 5, 6, and 8. The classes are limited to 10
participants. Classes for children ages 11-15 will be scheduled later. Those
interested can call the parks department at 921-1687 for more information or
check its Facebook page, he said.
In other business, the board scheduled the annual Boo Bash for Sunday, Oct.
27, and Porter’s Lights of Love for Sunday, Dec. 1, this year.
The meeting opened with an introduction from Kaufman who was appointed by
the Town Council to complete the unexpired term of Patty Raffin who
Kaufman, a Republican, said he works as a software designer and moved to
Porter 10 years ago after growing up in Lake County.
“I love it here. It’s a nice town. I thought I could make a little bit of a
difference,” Kaufman said.