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.
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.
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”
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
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
was pushed through the legislature to allow alcohol sales.
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.
focus is to protect government employees and whistle-blowers from harassment
and to make sure government programs work as intended.
the possibility of litigation against the National Park Service and the
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.”