LP County Parks superintendent details struggles and triumphs of 2020

 

WNLP editor’s note: La Porte County Parks Superintendent Jeremy Sobecki offers this letter to the community:

La Porte County Parks Superintendent Jeremy Sobecki

In many ways 2020 has been the most difficult year to be a park professional that anyone could imagine. Most of our programs have been and will be canceled, many rentals had to be canceled due to stay-at-home orders, trainings and get togethers were either postponed or canceled, and more. All of these things have brought about very difficult decisions and ones that we never thought we’d have to make.

In many other ways, this year has shown us how important parks can be to our patrons and community. During statewide stay-at home-orders, parks were one place that people were told they COULD go! That made us essential, and our staff and patrons took that to heart. While people were unfortunately off work or school or working from home, we saw high visitation in all of our parks. People came out in droves to hike, play, have a picnic and just enjoy nature.

We always love seeing people come out and enjoy our parks, but we are especially happy to see them choose us at times like these. Being able to provide a place to relax and forget about what is going on in the world is really rewarding when people start to realize that they NEED parks.

Even through all the difficulties, 2020 was actually a very productive year for the La Porte County Parks as well. While in many professions it is nearly impossible to distance staff to keep them safe through something like this pandemic, in the parks we have plenty of room to spread out and continue to provide much-needed services and, in many ways, even improve them.

This year we completed a 2018 DNR Land and Water Conservation Fund grant that added a new picnic shelter, a restroom and a trail, paved the parking lot and added a new one, expanded park acreage by 15 acres, and constructed a rain garden at Luhr County Park. We were able to have the parking lot and drive paved at Red Mill Park. Volunteers constructed and re-opened 3.5 miles of mountain bike trails at Red Mill. We also started work to revitalize the La Porte County Shared Bikeways system. These are just a few of the projects and improvements that our staff and contractors were able to accomplish this year in your parks!

Park buildings were closed completely at times, parks were short-staffed at other times, programs were minimal, and we sometimes had to find new ways to get things done. Over all, we realized that parks are essential to many people. That is something we take to heart and will continue to remember as we go about our jobs and things hopefully get back to normal.

Thank you for your continued park visitation and support. We look forward to seeing you in our parks and facilities during and after these strange times.

Jeremy Sobecki, La Porte County Parks superintendent

5 Responses to “LP County Parks superintendent details struggles and triumphs of 2020”

  1. Bob Goethals

    Dec 02. 2020

    Our county parks are a true treasure. We are not only fortunate to have them but the great leadership and direction that Jeremy provides. Kudos to him and the Parks staff for maintaining and keeping the Parks a wonderful place for all to visit!

    Reply to this comment
    • Matt Dowty

      Dec 02. 2020

      I agree 100% with Bob’s comments.
      Our county parks have helped me keep my sanity during the pandemic.
      They are beautiful and well taken care of.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Kathy

    Dec 02. 2020

    We love our county parks and hiked many of them during the covid restrictions. We live close to Luhr so it was our most visited, and we were thrilled to watch a pileated woodpecker drill large holes in a tree on one visit. Sometimes a group of friends met there for visiting. Thanks for your hard work!

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  3. Joy

    Dec 02. 2020

    Many thanks to the parks staff. I’m glad there was such an influx of people visiting the parks. Hopefully that will continue. Great article, Jeremy!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Jim Holifield

    Dec 03. 2020

    I would put our county parks up against any in the state. We are lucky to have such wonderful facilities…and even luckier to have great people like Jeremy watching over them!

    Reply to this comment

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