The Porter County
Park Board recently expressed its willingness to accept the Kilmer Property
in north Center Township as a donation following a lobby from a group of
citizens looking to raise money to purchase the property to save it from
At the Park Board’s
last meeting, Andrea Proulx Buinicki, said she and a group of other
neighboring property owners are looking to raise funds and make an offer to
buy 13 of the 17.4 acres south of Rogers Lakewood Park, which is zoned
medium density single family residential.
subdivision has been proposed on the parcel, and the group of residents is
concerned about contaminated drainage to Loomis and Spectacle Lakes, as well
as increased traffic. They proposed that the Parks Department manage the
property if they can scrounge up the funds to buy it.
Craig Kenworthy said that the Board’s land acquisition and development
committee favors accepting such a gift. Parks Foundation President Brian
Waisanen said the Foundation also voted to partner with the group in its
efforts to acquire the property and turn it over to the Park Board.
the group that the Board’s willingness to take on the property must come
with the understanding that even a simple trail network and a parking lot
requires funding the Board doesn’t have available right now. “This piece of
property, even as a gift, may sit idle for a while. You’re not gonna get
some fancy trail park right away.”
Superintendent Walter Lenckos told the group the property could be eligible
for both Recreation Trails Program and Land and Water Conservation Fund
grants, depending on how the acquisition goes and if some crucial federal
legislation pushes more funding toward the LWCF.
Buinicki asked what
people can do about that legislation. Lenckos said residents can call their
senators to voice support for the reauthorization of the Land and Water
that the 2019 Program Guides went out and have gotten positive feedback
already. “Good news is the phones literally started ringing the next day,”
Lenckos said, reporting that summer camps are already 25 percent full.
Construction on the
Horton Children’s Center, the grain bin project, is coming along well.
Interior work is underway while Chester, Inc. and their subcontractors wait
for warmer weather to complete certain projects, according to Lenckos.
After a concerned
resident brought up the use of pesticides on Parks properties at the last
meeting, Lenckos has also been investigating the ways various entities form
policies about pesticide application. Lenckos reported that forming such
policies is difficult because the use of pesticides is governed by
regulatory agencies and directions for use.
member Drew Armstrong specifically pointed out Glyphosate, which has made
headlines recently for being found in trace amounts in popular beer and wine
brands. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, a common broadleaf
spectrum product used to control invasive or undesirable plant species.
Lenckos said he’s
had trouble getting input from fellow Parks officials on the matter of using
Glyphosate. “Frankly several of them were unwilling to discuss it.”
interested in having that conversation because it’s so embedded into
restoration best practices and land management best practices, if the ship
gets steered toward not using Glyphosate, the repercussions will be
significant because there’s not a reasonably priced alternative that does
what it does,” said Lenckos.
Kenworthy said he’s
skeptical of people saying Glyphosate isn’t harmful when the same belief
used to be common about asbestos. “I’m worried about our staff, our patrons,
and our environment,” he added.
“Until we get something hammered out here, I want to make sure whoever is
applying it out there is a licensed applicator, and we’re following the
label very closely.”
Lenckos said Parks
Horticulturist Matt Brown is the Department’s licensed applicator.
Lenckos also made a
reminder that the Board will not meet in March. The next County Park Board
meeting will be the first Thursday in April.