Park in southern Porter County begins to take shape
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent January 10, 2013 9:20PM
Updated: February 12, 2013 2:40PM
VALPARAISO — The reality of a county park in southern Porter County won’t be known until March or April, but it looks likely.
Porter County Parks Board member Craig Kenworthy addressed the matter at Thursday’s board meeting after resident Charlotte Read asked about passive recreation areas like trails and talked about developing the Kankakee River park.
Kenworthy declined to give details while land negotiations continue, but he said, “It looks like this is going to happen.”
The southern park has been a point of contention for many because most county parks are north of U.S. 30.
Former Porter County Commissioner Carole Knoblock, as she retires from public life, requested a park that includes sports fields be built in the southern part of the county. Kenworthy, Park Board member Ruth Jarnecke, and County Council members Jim Polarek, Laura Blaney and Sylvia Graham have met informally with Knoblock to find a suitable spot.
Kenworthy said the Porter County Parks Foundation supports the effort, and County Commissioner John Evans has offered to pay for the land appraisal.
Although silent on most matters concerning the land, Kenworthy said there would be ball fields, trails and reclaimed nature areas.
“It will be a very, very nice park,” he said. “It’s an incredible dream. It will enhance the quality of life immensely.”
Also at the meeting, Tom Vavrek of Vavrek Architects of Whiting presented preliminary plans for the educational center and barn at Sunset Hill Farm County Park at Meridian Road and U.S. 6.
The building would have two parts.
The section to the east will resemble a barn and have “heavy lumber” construction.
It will include a kitchen, a loft and a program room, and the major part of the barn can seat 160 people at tables for reception-type events.
The western section will have offices and meeting rooms, and the board wants to find out the county commissioners’ intent on locating other county offices in the building.
Board member David Canright said that since he’s joined the board in 1997, there was no consideration of having animals in the barn.
Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos said the new animal program is popular, and an animal barn is an identified park need.