Chesterton Tribune



Dunes Action urges folks to email opposition to Pavilion project to DNR

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Dunes Action is opposing plans to modify the Pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park in a way which it says “would destroy both its historic character and past uses.”

In a statement released on Wednesday, the group is urging folks to contact Indiana Department of Natural Resources Director Cameron Clark at to express their opposition to the proposed changes.

“Dunes Action is very much in favor of the appropriate restoration of the Pavilion but we don’t agree with the plans we’ve seen,” said Dunes Action Member Norman Hellmers, a retired National Park Service Superintendent experienced in restoration projects.

“A modern 1,800-square foot structure on the roof of the Pavilion would end its historic use as an observation deck for the public, becoming instead a rooftop ‘lounge’ that would cater to up to 200 bar patrons,” the statement said. “The addition of two outdoor dining terraces would take away space currently used by the public for outdoor recreation and hinder ADA use of the concrete apron to access the beach.”

“Two modern balconies are also planned for the north side of the Pavilion, which would negatively alter the historic lakeside faŤade,” the statement added. “An elevator shaft has already been constructed in the historic building, but it is unclear whether appropriate approvals or permits were obtained for the work.”

“It took a public records request to get the plans that show these objectionable changes,” said Dunes Action co-founder Jim Sweeney. “The DNR needs to provide the public with updated plans. If not, this work could start with no opportunity for public input whatsoever.”

Dan Bortner, head of DNR State Parks and Reservoirs, in speaking to the Indiana Natural Resources Commission in 2012, said of the Pavilion: “We want to get this back to what was originally intended” and “We want this brought back to its original design.”

Hellmers, however, said that putting a barroom on the roof is not true to this idea, and that the DNR is going beyond what is needed to restore the building. “The kinds of uses anticipated can be successfully met by using the building’s interior,” he said.

Dunes Action further maintains that the DNR is not following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, which are the accepted standards for such historic preservation projects. “Unfortunately, work on the Pavilion could start at any time since the developer apparently has approval to proceed,” Sweeney said. “Meanwhile, the public is still being kept in the dark about current plans, and has not been given any opportunity to comment on how this magnificent building will be treated,” he said.

Dunes Action is a grassroots, all-volunteer, non-partisan coalition. For more information visit the group on Facebook or at



Posted 10/26/2017




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