Chesterton Tribune



Gensel appoints special prosecutor to review Pavilion project allegations

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A special prosecutor will investigate allegations that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Pavilion Partners LLC dodged state law in advance of renovations to the 90-year-old Pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park.

On Tuesday, Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel appointed a special prosecutor to consider the claims--made by Dunes Action--as a preemptive strike for transparency and objectivity. “Due to my having a personal and professional relationship with Chuck Williams, the matter was referred to Senior Prosecutor David Thomas,” Gensel said. Williams is the managing partner for Pavilion Partners LLC.

Gensel also said that his move does not speak to his views on the merit of the accusations. “My bringing in a special prosecutor only means that the recognized conflict necessitated bringing in another prosecutor to review the matter,” he told the Chesterton Tribune.

Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford approved the appointment same day.

The appointment follows allegations made by Dunes Action and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) that Pavilion Partners LLC violated Title 14 of Indiana code because it did not obtain a valid permit for demolition on the West Plaza, now the location of the comfort center, and construction of an elevator shaft that protrudes through the Pavilion roof.

Dunes Action and PEER also allege that the DNR, along with Pavilion Partners, should have secured a certificate of approval from the Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board before state resources were used for the project. According to Dunes Action, the DNR confirmed that part of the demolition was done by State Park employees.

Both claims were made in a letter that Dunes Action and PEER sent to Gensel last month. Dunes Action first contacted the Indiana Attorney General’s Office in February and was advised that the matter is under the purview of the local prosecutor.

Dunes Action reports that it supports historically appropriate restoration, but it opposes the addition of two balconies or a rooftop pub at the Pavilion. Both groups believe that additional work done on the property without proper authorization would constitute further violation of state law. No further work has been done on the project this year.

PEER is a non-profit public interest organization that focuses on the environment, including management of public land and ethics in government.

Dunes Action is a grassroots, all-volunteer, non-partisan coalition. It can be found on Facebook and at


Posted 5/8/2018




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