Chesterton Tribune



Save the Dunes joins Izaak Walter League in opposing Pavilion project

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Save the Dunes has joined the Izaak Walton League in objecting to the lease arrangement between the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Pavilion Partners (PP) LLC and is calling on the DNR to halt construction pending a full public discussion of the project and its details.

In a statement released this morning, Save the Dunes objected in particular to the format of the open house on Monday at the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center, in which DNR and PP representatives were available to speak to individuals at multiple stations in the exhibit room. That arrangement did have the effect of creating traffic jams in the exhibit room and in the corridor leading to it, there was a great deal of ambient noise from cross-conversations, and at no point were all attendees simultaneously able to hear a single authoritative DNR or PP representative answer questions of common interest.

Save the Dunes also suggested that the open-house format is typical of a “lack of transparency” which it said has characterized the RFP process from the beginning.

“Save the Dunes attended the April 6 Open House held by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Pavilion Partners LLC,” the statement said. “The organization was highly disappointed with the lack of authentic stakeholder engagement at the meeting, and believes that the DNR and Pavilion Partners LLC have missed an incredible opportunity to involve the public in the reimagining of this iconic structure.”

“Save the Dunes opposes the project due to lack of transparency and stakeholder input,” the statement continued. “The group asks that the DNR and Pavilion Partners immediately stop the project and schedule a series of public meetings and peer reviews to discuss project details rather than rushing through a project that clearly does not have broad public support at this time.”

The time for open houses and other forums was before the contract was inked, not after, Save the Dunes added. “The DNR should have held public meetings months ago, after receiving proposals and before signing a contract. Instead, a crowded open house was the region’s only opportunity to inform the design of a structure on a site beloved by the public. There was no opportunity for meaningful conversation and that has driven much of the controversy. Save the Dunes finds this unacceptable. The organization believes this has been a flawed process and has resulted in a flawed plan.”

“These issues are critical to the public and should not be seen as trivial,” the statement concluded. “Work should not proceed until the public has had an opportunity to provide input and the project earns broader approval from the community.”


Posted 4/7/2015