Chesterton Tribune



NIRPC urges Governor Holcomb to declare beach erosion emergency

Back To Front Page


The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission is holding Gov. Eric Holcomb’s feet to the fire, urging him to declare a public emergency, so as to make lakeshore communities in the region eligible for federal disaster relief.

On Feb. 18, NIRPC adopted a resolution which, though noting that Holcomb’s recent executive order is a step in the right direction to combat beachfront erosion occasioned by record high lake levels, falls short of an emergency declaration. The resolution specifically refers to an emergency declaration as “unfinished business.”

The resolution calls Holcomb’s attention specifically to the following:

--The mild winter has failed to generate shelf ice along the lakeshore which would protect it from winter storms and projections indicate that lake levels could rise by fully 12 more inches.

--Indiana Dunes State Park, the most visited state park in Indiana, could see a “decline in visitors due to disappearing beaches and lakeshore.” Dunes State Park is an “important source of DNR revenues,” and any decline in those revenues could “negatively impact the DNR’s ability to support its fee supported services.”

--Michigan City’s largest public park “has been inundated during these high water events.”

--Public investments along the shoreline--including the “newly constructed Portage Lakefront Park”--“have already been significantly damaged by the high lake levels and additional damage to primary structures is imminent.”

--“Private property, utilities, public roads, and/or public beaches in the communities of Long Beach, Dune Acres, Beverly Shores, Ogden Dunes, and the Town of Porter are under constant threat of destruction.”

--“The Town of Beverly Shores has spent considerable capital using debt financing and additionally relying on donations to secure and prevent the destruction of Lake Front Drive and more funding is urgently needed.”

--“The possible impact of these exigent water levels in Lake Michigan upon the state’s Port at Burns Harbor, the steel mills, the oil refineries, the investor-owned public utility plants of NIPSCO, while not known, must be a concern as this exigency continues.”

NIRPC, accordingly, is calling on Holcomb to declare a public emergency “without undue delay”; authorize INDOT and the Indiana National Guard to transport needed materials to impacted sites in collaboration with local authorities; direct the proper state agencies to work with federal partners to deliver the necessary resources to impacted communities; and to urge leaders in the executive and legislative branches to “adopt the necessary measures to protect threatened resources, to prepare for the prospect of an enduring threat from high lake levels, and to equip and guide long-term solutions to prevent loss from future lake-level incidents.”

Letter to Holcomb

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, NIRPC forwarded the adopted resolution to Holcomb.

In a cover letter, NIRPC Chair Michael Griffin expressed his hope that Holcomb would finally pull the trigger on an emergency declaration. “We hope that the sentiments of the resolution have sufficient compelling appeal that you will be moved to make the emergency disaster declaration for the area in order to trigger the added resources for a remedy,” Griffin wrote.


Posted 2/28/2020




Search This Site:

Custom Search