Chesterton Tribune



Dunes Action draws another crowd as fight to save pavilion continues

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More than 50 Dunes Action! supporters attended the update meeting August 8 to discuss the Pavilion Reuse Project at the Indiana Dunes State Park, held at the Baugher Center in Chesterton.

Steering committee member Norm Hellmers updated attendees on the status of the project and explained the intricacies of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and other state and federal programs that affect the planning for the proposed developments at the beach.

Hellmers worked for the National Park Service for 31 years until he retired to Valparaiso.

Hellmers reiterated the DunesAction position opposing the rehabilitation and reuse of the beach pavilion that was built in 1930.

“Our problem,” he said, “is what they want to do with the pavilion and the fact that there has been no public input on the projects”

Hellmers’ presentation focused on the issues and rules around the redevelopment of the pavilion and not the proposed new banquet center or the sale of alcohol at the park.

Hellmers said, ”We don’t like what happened but that horse has left the barn,” referring to the sale of alcohol in the park.

Hundreds of local people attended the hearings on permitting alcohol, the vast majority in opposition. The permit was voted down by both the local and state alcohol boards.

Special legislation was pushed through the legislature to allow alcohol sales.

Several questions were asked about the details of the proposal, including the use of the roof of the pavilion, the addition of balconies, changing windows to doors, and the logistics of using a kitchen in the pavilion to provide hundreds of dinners in the banquet center.

When asked if recent news reports were accurate about construction on the pavilion commencing after Labor Day, Hellmers said, “I don’t think so. The DNR has not complied with any of the provisions required of them by the LWCF.”

Hellmers also said that DunesAction is working closely with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) in their deliberations with the National Park Service and the Indiana DNR.

PEER’s primary focus is to protect government employees and whistle-blowers from harassment and to make sure government programs work as intended.

Attendees discussed the possibility of litigation against the National Park Service and the Indiana DNR.

Hellmers said that both agencies have been refusing to answer questions and provide materials requested by DunesAction!, “Litigation may be our only recourse.”

Wrapping up the meeting was an open discussion and a viewing of slides about the history of the pavilion. Many left the meeting with a comment that they “had learned a lot” and “that this thing is far from over.”



Posted 8/11/2017




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