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Porter County looks to buy 55-acre site for park

Updated: May 6, 2013 6:24AM



VALPARAISO — The Porter County Parks Department will start the process of buying 55 acres that will become the second — and largest — south county park, and the owners are asking for less than the appraised value.

The Parks Board voted Thursday night to have Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos and board attorney David Hollenbeck begin negotiations for the land at the southeast corner of Indiana 49 and County Road 550 South.

The Dorothy L. Anderson Trust is asking $407,000 for the agricultural property. Hollenbeck said Indiana law states that the payment should be the average of two appraisals, which came in at $440,00 and $426,250.

The parks department’s land acquisition division had planned to ask the Porter County Commissioners and County Council for up to $600,000 for the land.

County officials have been pushing for more parkland south of U.S. 30 because there’s only one park there now, while the northern part of the county has a lot of parkland in use or in development.

There has been talk of using the 55-acre site, which is very flat, for athletic fields. County resident Herb Read — an activist for national, state and local parks — said he wanted to see immediate action to get public input.

Board member David Canright said the land purchase is still under negotiation, and the parks board will bring the matter to the public for input when the time is right.

Also at Thursday night’s meeting, Lenckos showed new plans for a learning center and barn-style building to be built at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

At the request of elected officials, the revision adds 1,200 to 1,400 square feet to the building so the county’s recycling and waste reduction district offices could move to the building.

Porter County commissioners are considering moving some offices out of the county administration building in Valparaiso because of overcrowding.

Lenckos plans to ask the parks commissioners for $1.5 million for the project at their April 16 meeting. He said there should be an estimate on the building’s cost next month, but it will be more than
$1.5 million.



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