Parks board settles on site for Sunset Hill educational barn
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent December 6, 2012 9:24PM
Updated: January 8, 2013 6:24AM
VALPARAISO — The planned barn and educational center at Sunset Hill Farm County Park now has a designated spot, a floor plan and — soon — a fund for it in the Porter County budget.
However, the project still has a long way to go before construction can begin at the park on Meridian Road.
The Porter County Parks Board decided Thursday night on where the barn will go, based on soil borings to see if the primary spot the board wanted would be safe to build on.
The parks department decided against putting the 10,000-square-foot educational barn on the site of the original dairy barn, which burned down decades ago.
Tom Vavrek of Vavrek Architects in Whiting said the soil samples look good for a site northwest of the current educational building and southeast of the parking lot.
The spot was the first choice because of its nearness to the original barn site, the ability to preserve the northern end of the park and its natural high point, Vavrek said.
It would use the existing parking lot with some growth there and allow the construction of a road between the parking lot and road to the south, which would create a drop-off area in front of the new barn.
Vavrek gave the parks staff a floor plan to review, and the park board should get a copy in January after staff revisions.
Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos said much work remains before the parks can think of construction.
Construction plans need to be made, the Porter County Plan Commission needs to approve it, the County Board of Commissioners needs to have a final vote to create the separate budget and the County Council needs to approve that.
There’s also the $3 million estimated cost.
The parks have about $700,000 set aside, Lenckos said. He wants to have $1 million ready before considering starting the work.
“We would like to be able to request $2 million from the council and the commissioners,” he said.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, Lenckos announced a three-day winter camp for kids at Sunset Hill Park.
Camp Funset Rocking Resolutions will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 2-4 and cost $60 per child.