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Porter County eager to take possession of property for future park

Updated: February 12, 2014 6:09AM



VALPARAISO — Porter County should officially own the 63.5 acres north of Kouts that will become a south county park on Jan. 15.

The county and owner plan to sign the papers at 2:30 p.m., and then the planning will begin.

The only solid plan so far for the property on the west side of Ind. 49 between East County Road 700S and East County Road 650S is to plant grass on the northern 10 acres.

But that is just to show that the parks department and parks board are serious about developing it as soon as possible, Parks Board member Craig Kenworthy said.

“We’re going to plant grass because it takes grass a long time to grow,” Kenworthy said.

For the remaining land — more than 50 acres — the board is taking bids for people to farm the land and will consider the bids at the Feb. 6 Parks Board meeting.

Parks Board attorney David Hollenbeck said three farmers have approached him about renting the fields, including the man who has been farming it.

There has been some confusion about how much County Economic Development Income Tax money the parks department has to put toward developing the park for the intended sports fields.

The parks department assumed that it had $70,000 left in CEDIT, but county financial officials told them that $25,000 is earmarked for the Zona Wildlife Sanctuary east of Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

Porter County Council member Jim Polarek said he did not recall earmarking any of the money for Zona but for the south county park.

The parks department will still have enough money to pay for an engineering contract with Duneland Engineering Group at $18,000 and a design and public meetings contract with Ratio of Indianapolis at $38,000.

The board approved those contracts at a Dec. 16 special meeting.

Porter County Parks Director Walter Lenckos asked the board to create a committee to oversee development of the park, and Kenworthy received permission to get started on a nonprofit group to work on raising money.

The parks department has already gotten $200,000 from the Regional Development Authority to extend sewer and water services to the land.



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