Chesterton Tribune



Dunes Action responds to rules limiting public comment

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Rules limiting public comment at the Porter County Tourism Board’s meeting in Valparaiso set for Thursday, July 16, have prompted a response from Dunes Action, the local group organized in opposition to plans for major construction on the Indiana Dunes State Park beach.

The rules were issued Monday, a full week, Dunes Action co-founder Desi Robertson says, after she relayed the group’s concerns to board President Mitch Peters and Executive Director Lorelei Weimer.

“This is a disingenuous effort at public participation,” said Robertson in a news release Monday. “In less than a month, both the meeting location and time were changed, so several news stories published incomplete and confusing information about the meeting format - and then the board waited until three days beforehand to issue rules? The public should have had clear guidelines weeks ago.”

Robertson’s July 6 letter requested the board drop a requirement that written questions be submitted in advance and suggested a format that worked well at a public meeting with the DNR in April. Dunes Action requested the finalized rules be made known as soon as possible. Weimer’s response, received at about 6 p.m. Friday, July 10, stated that the rules had been finalized and would be made public on the morning of July 13. No specifics were provided at that time.

The meeting is being arranged by the Tourism board to allow Pavilion Partners, LLC, to present their plans for a private banquet center at the Indiana Dunes State Park. The project has been opposed by Dunes Action and several other groups.

The tourism board originally had the item on its April meeting agenda, but postponed the presentation.

The tourism board, also known as Indiana Dunes Tourism, “says it has not taken a position on the project and has distanced itself from the controversy, stating it has “no authority whatsoever.” The role which Indiana Dunes Tourism may have played in the project’s development is unclear, however public documents show that Lorelei Weimer spoke about focusing on “the private public partnership for redoing the pavilion” as early as May of 2010, over a year before a prospectus was issued by the DNR. The tourism organization was also supportive of returning alcohol to the park,” the Dunes Action press release states.

“We’re very concerned about this lack of responsiveness. The board had three months to plan this meeting, so we don’t understand why these rules weren’t issued until now,” said Robertson. “Mitch Peters has said that he just wants to put this whole thing behind him, but the board is a public entity, and as such, should be more responsive to the community they serve.”

Dunes ACTION! is a grassroots, all-volunteer, non-partisan coalition that is opposed to the plan by the DNR to allow a private development on the lakefront at the Indiana Dunes State Park. Visit to learn more.


Posted 7/14/2015




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