Residents weigh in on plans for Sunset Hill Farm County Park
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent August 8, 2012 9:44PM
The Porter County Park Board will receive the open house comments at its next meeting, at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 in the commissioners chambers in the county building, 155 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso.
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:53PM
VALPARAISO — More than 50 people gathered in the maintenance building at Sunset Hill Farm County Park to learn about proposed improvements for the park, and give their input.
“We want to get some feedback from the people who use the park the most often, or are just getting to know it,” said Walter Lenckos, superintendent for Porter County Parks and Recreation.
Back in the spring, the Porter County Park Board put together a five-year plan for the park, an update of its master plan, but it lacked details, Lenckos said.
The Wednesday meeting offered options for the campground, community garden, amphitheater and trails, and included a new, natural playground and creation of Sunset Road.
The parks department is looking for ideas and critiques, Lenckos said, and visitors Wednesday offered both.
Gerry Hebert lives across U.S. 6 from the 280-acre park, which is located in Liberty Township.
“I was here before it was a park, when it was a farm,” he said, adding he walks his dog there, and goes there for picnics and camping, among other uses.
Overall, he’s pleased with the proposed plans for the park. He would like to see the amphitheater perhaps host a bluegrass festival, and for the park to showcase some of its history as a farm, as well as improve the pond so it can be used for fishing.
“I don’t want to see a lot of basketball courts and soccer fields and that kind of business. We have plenty of those in this area,” he said.
Less pleased were Herb and Charlotte Read, who also live in Liberty Township. Herb is on the county plan commission, and Charlotte is a former member of the park board and a past president of the park foundation.
They want to see less development at the park, not more, and fear the park is getting away from its roots as a farm at a time when, Charlotte pointed out, farms are rapidly disappearing.
“Do not try to squeeze too many facilities into the available space,” Herb wrote on a survey about the park. “Leave the area as it is. This is not a city park.”