Chesterton Tribune



Dunes Action, PEER: Pavilion project may violate Historic Preservation Act

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Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and Dunes Action are asking for a formal review of Pavilion Partners LLC’s plans to add terraces, balconies, and a rooftop bar to the Pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park beach, on the ground that renovations may violate the National Historic Preservation Act.

“The groups are asking for a formal review to examine whether extensive commercial modifications will damage the historic character of the nearly 90-year-old Pavilion, on the shores of Lake Michigan,” according to a joint statement released this week.

“The public has never had the opportunity to learn precisely what changes are planned for the Pavilion, let alone to comment on them,” said Norman Hellmers of Dunes Action, which is awaiting responses to requests for records from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. “The DNR is acting more like a silent business partner than a public agency charged with protecting our state park.”

The groups are specifically asking the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Indiana State Historic Preservation Officer to undertake a formal consultation on the project, including public notice and opportunities for comments. “The law addresses impacts to the physical building itself as well as its visual integrity,” the statement said. “The Pavilion is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.”

“Press accounts and available documents describe plans to install an 1800-square foot rooftop bar with seating for as many as 200; two balconies on the second floor of the north (Lake Michigan) side; and, outdoor dining terraces beneath the balconies,” the statement said. “All of these would be visually jarring additions to the old Pavilion. There is also a proposal for a banquet and conference center to be built adjoining the Pavilion. Over 10,000 people have signed petitions in opposition to these plans.”

“Because Indiana Dunes State Park and its Pavilion were developed with grants from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the National Park Service (NPS) must ensure that the property meets LWCF requirements, including that it not be converted to uses other than public outdoor recreation,” the statement said.

In a letter dated Sept. 20, 2017, an NPS official advised PEER that the NPS had determined that the uses of the Pavilion as described by the DNR complied with the LWCF, and therefore “work on the pavilion can proceed,” according to the statement. The NPS admitted it “had not seen any documentation” about planned uses but appears to have given its sign-off for Pavilion reconstruction, according to the statement.

“The central concern is that the Pavilion will be turned into an unsightly, garishly lit, loud, commercial complex, destroying both its historical character and its charm,” PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said. “Both the taxpayers of Indiana and the entire U. S. want to see that our shared public investment in this treasured place is not trashed.”


Posted 9/28/2017






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