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Porter County parks board seeks to clarify status of land favored by soccer club

Updated: December 3, 2012 6:48AM



VALPARAISO — It’s Porter County park land that is within Valparaiso city limits, and the land technically belongs top the County Board of Commissioners, not the parks department.

Now that Valparaiso Soccer Club wants to develop it and pay for some of the costs to do so, the Porter County Parks Board wants the status of the old poor farm property defined.

That includes possibly selling the land on Indiana 2, in front of Essex subdivision south of U.S. 30, to the Valparaiso parks department and using the money from that to buy new land in unincorporated Porter County for another park.

The board agreed to have Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos and Park Board President Rich Hudson speak with the county commissioners about the status, including deeding the land to the parks department, approving a sale or leaving the parks out of the land.

“If they want it to be a park, they should deed it to us,” board member David Canright said. “If they don’t know what they want to do with it, we don’t know either.”

Canright said he wouldn’t mind selling it specifically to the Valparaiso parks department and buying new land or developing it.

But the development can’t take money away from other projects and needs to consider the water shed and drainage creek near it, he said.

Lenckos said he’s talked with Valparaiso Parks Superintendent John Seibert about a possible partnership on the land and noted that his department doesn’t do sports programming.

Parks planner Ray Joseph developed a $60,000 to $70,000 estimated cost to engineer the land for soccer fields.

The parks department already paid $25,000 to help tear down the burned old house on the property and paid $40,000 for a plan for the land, former board member Dick Maxey said.

Also at the meeting, the board decided on a place to put the planned educational barn for Sunset Hill Farm County Park west of the site where the remains of the original, burned-down barn exists.

The parks department will have from seven up to 14 soil borings done there to see whether the land is appropriate for building the barn and whether there are any surprises, like bad soil to build on or other buried items.

The board is also requesting the commissioners create a separate budget fund for money toward the barn’s creation.

Lenckos said that putting the current $304,211 in County Economic Development Income Tax into a nonreverting fund would make sure there are no questions about having to reallocate the money every year.

The parks department expects another $54,166 coming into the fund and $40,772 to be reimbursed to the fund from a tractor purchase earlier this year.



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