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Porter County park denied new barn - for now

Updated: May 29, 2013 6:19AM



VALPARAISO — A new building at Sunset Hill Farm County Park has been in the works for 13 years, and will have to wait another few weeks.

The Porter County Council on Tuesday couldn’t muster enough votes to grant Porter County Parks and Recreation $1.5 million in hospital interest proceeds for the Raise the Barn project.

The council voted 3-2 to grant the funding but with Councilman Dan Whitten, D-At-large, and Councilwoman Karen Conover, R-3rd District, absent, couldn’t garner the four-member majority needed to move the project along.

Councilmen Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd District, and Jim Biggs, R-1st District, voted against the funding for now because of the more pressing financial matter of funding medical services at the jail, which could be resolved in the coming weeks.

Walter Lenckos, the parks superintendent, will be back before the council at their May meeting to present the request another time. The Board of Commissioners approved the measure earlier this month.

The project could cost $2 million to $3 million, depending on what the parks department decides to do, Lenckos said. The building will include parks offices and office space for the county’s recycling and waste district.

The parks department has $200,000 from its foundation for the project, as well as about $200,000 in county economic development income tax funds, Lenckos said. Program and rental fees would support the building once it’s constructed.

Plans for a new building started 13 years ago, Lenckos said, adding he would like to see it completed in time for the farm’s 80th anniversary next year.

In other business, the council voted 5-0 to deny a request from Treasurer Mike Bucko for $25,000 for website enhancements. That’s because there’s money in the auditor’s non-reverting fund for the contract.

When the contract began a few years ago, it was covered through the county’s information technology budget and the treasurer’s budget, Bucko said, adding it’s been covered by the auditor’s fund the past few years.

Since the auditor’s fund is now under the control of the council, Bucko said he just wanted assurance the money would be available. Auditor Bob Wichlinski said he will put in a request for the funds at the council’s meeting next month.



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