Chesterton Tribune



More than 40 attend Dunes Action meeting to plan opposition to privatized pavilion and banquet center

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is a press statement from Dunes Action, a committee of the Porter County Izaak Walton League:

A public meeting of Dunes Action this week saw over 40 citizens gather to discuss how to continue to keep the issue of privatization and commercialization of the Indiana Dunes State Park before the public.

Attendees shared discussion topics and points of contention which could be submitted during the public comment period, which is required under the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) rules, prior to any approval of construction of a new banquet facility on the Indiana Dunes State Park beach.

Discussion ranged from problems seen daily with the design and maintenance of the new bathroom building already situated on the west public plaza of the historic Dunes Pavilion, to questions regarding the disturbance of, and use of a bulldozer on, the dune on the west side of the ‘comfort center,’ to potential parking space conflicts, and the possibility of alcohol consumption on the beach.

Attendees also raised concerns about teen lifeguards being the front-line against adult drinkers, dangers to pedestrians in the parking lot, light pollution destroying one of the few remaining dark sky pockets in the region for stargazing, and glass window walls being a death trap for migrating birds.

The lack of security personnel means all dangers are magnified, one said. There is no visible presence of DNR rangers or law enforcement and the current ban on alcohol is not enforced, said one attendee. Serving alcohol on site will only make matters worse, she added.

The DNR claim that alcohol will not be allowed on the beach is ridiculous, another attendee said, when it is clear the historic beach Pavilion itself is on the beach. “Look at any Google map.”

Many are concerned about the obliteration of the east public plaza, where the private banquet center is planned. One attendee noted that she had inquired about the lack of picnic tables near the current food vendor trucks and was told tables would impede crowd movement. A structure on that site would do so even more, she said.

The lack of transparency in the process was criticized, with Dunes Action supporters noting that as of the meeting night, Monday, July 20, 2016, no plans have been made public.

With recent additional deaths on Lake Michigan, it was agreed that the dangerous waters of the lake, with its tides, currents, and depth, immediately adjacent to multiple points of alcohol service pose a considerable danger to beach goers, especially those unfamiliar with the changeable lake.

The recent change in the law allowing the DNR to issue alcohol permits without public input will likely lead to some unpleasant surprises for state park visitors around the state, one DA supporter said. Other communities have been taken unaware by the change. Attendees plan to write letters to the editors of various newspapers throughout the region and the state, hoping to bring the issues to light for all the state parks.

New Dunes Action attendees signed petitions and volunteers were sought for the next fundraiser planned in September.

Next Dunes Action meeting

The next public meeting for Dunes Action supporters is set for September 13.

As the meeting adjourned, attendees were urged to talk to their friends, family and neighbors, and spread the word that the proposed construction at the IDSP beachfront is not a done deal, and that the battle to protect the beach is not over.

The rules of the LWCF can be found at

Dunes Action! is a grassroots, all-volunteer, non-partisan coalition opposed to the DNR plan to allow a private development company to build and operate a conference/banquet center on the lakefront at the Indiana Dunes State Park.

Donations by check may be sent to: PCC Izaak Walton League of America, 791 N. Calumet Ave., Valparaiso, IN, 46383. (Write Dunes Action in the memo line).

Donations and correspondence may also be sent to Dunes Action!, P.O. Box 2031, Chesterton, IN, 46304.

Find Dunes Action on Facebook and at to learn more. Donations may be made online at that address.


Posted 7/29/2016





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