Dunes Action is
calling on the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to hold a new
public meeting to fully explain the proposed changes for the nearly
90-year-old Pavilion at the Indiana Dunes State Park.
Both Dunes Action
and the National Park Service (NPS) have recently sent letters to the DNR.
NPS asked that the DNR direct Pavilion Partners LLC to either revert to the
original plans for restoration, submit new plans for review, or consider
converting the Pavilion instead. Dunes Action requested a public meeting for
the citizens of Northwest Indiana to weigh-in.
“This project has
been riddled with problems, partly because there’s been no public dialogue.
We’re now asking the DNR to give us -- the owners of this historic building
-- an opportunity to learn what’s really going on, and to provide some much
needed input,” said Dunes Action co-founder Jim Sweeney.
While Dunes Action
agrees that the Pavilion restoration is long overdue, the group wants it to
be done in a way that is faithful to the building’s history and integrity.
According to statements made by State Park Director Dan Bortner to the
Indiana Natural Resources Commission in 2012, the DNR’s original intention
seemed to be a return to the building’s original design. Dunes Action
believes that the DNR and its lessee, Pavilion Partners LLC, have strayed
too far from that goal.
Also, the DNR’s
most recent plans are out of compliance with Land and Water Conservation
Fund (LWCF) requirements due to a lack of public access, according to the
In a July 12 letter
to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a group that
has been working with Dunes Action, Jeffery Reinbold, assistance director
for partnerships and civic engagement for the NPS updated the groups on the
NPS’s stance: “Ultimately, we found the plans have changed enough to require
a new review because the Pavilion Project no longer appears to be secondary
and supportive of outdoor recreation. We noted several changes as
problematic, such as the loss of public access throughout the building; the
appearance of a tilt towards more formalized dining options; and the lack of
dedicated public recreation space on the rooftop.”
Reinbold went on to
say that the NPS communicated the same concerns to DNR Director Cameron
Clark in a May 15 letter requesting that the DNR communicate the need for
remediation to Pavilion Partners and was still awaiting a response at the
time of the July 12 letter.
In the May 15
letter, Roger Knowlton, chief of recreation grants for the NPS, wrote: “We
are also concerned by the INDNR’s statements that these plans will likely
continue to change, and we are uncomfortable providing a determination for
an action that will continually have cause to be questioned with each
iteration of the plans.”
The latest plans
for the Pavilion, released by the DNR in February 2018, still call for a
bar/restaurant covering the entire rooftop and the addition of two large
balconies on the lake side, additions that were labeled “drastic” and
“problematic” by the DNR’s professional staff back in 2010. Knowlton also
stated in the May 15 letter that a large bar on the first floor “does not
support the concept that it is intended to be a casual family-oriented, food
service for beachgoers.”
thinks a meeting will be a win-win for everyone. The DNR can provide
up-to-date information and address the public’s concerns, and the public
will finally have a say on what they do or don’t want at the Pavilion. Now
that the project plans are once again in flux, this is the perfect time to
do it,” said Sweeney.
Dunes Action is a
grassroots, all-volunteer, non-partisan coalition. Find them on Facebook or