Chesterton Tribune



Public urged to oppose banquet center in Marquette Plan comments

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The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) released a draft of its Marquette Action Plan for a 30-day public comment period beginning on May 30.

The draft is based on the earlier Marquette Plan and is a “comprehensive and collaborative vision for guiding future decision-making across all of Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline.”

The deadline for input to be submitted to is Thursday, June 28.

Dunes Action, a citizen group formed to advocate for public input and transparency at Indiana Dunes State Park, has long opposed the DNR’s plans to build a banquet center next to the historic Pavilion at Dunes State Park, and is urging the public to take immediate action and provide comments on the Marquette Action Plan.

“Dunes Action is urging members of the community to tell the planning commission they oppose inappropriate additions to the Pavilion and the building of a banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park,” said Jim Sweeney, Dunes Action co-founder. “Additional access to Lake Michigan is important, but the plan should also focus on preserving existing natural and cultural resources, such as the historic Pavilion and its surrounding public lands,” he said.

“A NIRPC survey which was part of the Marquette Action Plan process shows that the two most important amenities to the public are lakefront beaches/conservation of lands, and public parks,” Dunes Action said. “The survey also shows that the public favors the preservation of historic buildings and neighborhoods. Dunes Action believes that the Pavilion development, especially the proposed banquet center, will have severe environmental impacts on the park and lakeshore. In addition, the DNR has not accepted public input on the restoration of the historic Pavilion. Dunes Action points out that the DNR’s current plans will destroy historic features of the building, which is just the opposite of what the public says it wants in the survey.”

The Marquette Action Plan also addresses ADA access to the lakeshore, which Dunes Action says will be negatively affected by the Pavilion project. “The plan to use portions of the concrete pad, as well as converting the Pavilion roof into a pub will actually decrease free public and ADA access,” Sweeney said.

The plan also “encourages coordination” between the towns of Chesterton and Porter and the Indiana Dunes State Park in comprehensive and recreation planning. Sweeney said that he agrees. “Dunes Action would welcome this kind of coordination, since in the past, the public has been purposely excluded from the planning process. We think coordination concerning the proposed Pavilion modifications and banquet center should be specifically added to the plan.”

The plan already makes some specific recommendations, and Dunes Actions wants the public to ask NIRPC to consider adding more:

* To restore the state park Pavilion back to its “original design” (without additions) as the DNR once indicated it would.

* To stop construction of a banquet center adjacent to the Pavilion. “Over 11,000 members of the public have opposed the negative environmental and cultural impacts of this project,” Sweeney said. “The commission should respond to what the community wants and needs.”

Dunes Action is a grassroots, all-volunteer, non-partisan coalition. For more information, visit Facebook and



Posted 6/6/2018




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