By VICKI URBANIK
Two members of the Save the Dunes Council said neither their group nor
anyone else they know of opposed the construction of the Indiana Dunes State
Park Nature Center.
Council President Susan Mihalo and Executive Director Tom Anderson both
responded to a comment in Thursday’s Chesterton Tribune by Indiana
Department of Natural Resources Director Kyle Hupfer, who said opponents of
the proposed state park inn have opposed other improvements at the state
He cited as an example the Nature Center. Referring to the Save the Dunes
Council, he said the Nature Center is now embraced by those who opposed it.
“We were never against the new Nature Center,” Mihalo said later in the day.
“We are sort of dumbfounded by that statement.”
Both she and Anderson said Hupfer may have been referring to the new
Visitor’s Center, a joint project between the Porter County Convention,
Recreation and Visitor Commission and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Mihalo noted that the Save the Dunes did fervently oppose the original site
selected for the center within the boundaries of the National Lakeshore.
With the help of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, she said the location of the
building was moved out of the national park and to its current site at U.S.
20 and Ind. 49, where the Dunes Council has participated in an innovative
stormwater management system.
Anderson said the Visitors Center is an example of how a group can oppose an
original plan and then work with the agencies involved to make the project
better. Mihalo added that nearly everyone agrees that the new site is far
better than the original location and that the stormwater system will be a
model for others.
Mihalo also responded to another statement by Hupfer, who said he doesn’t
know if the DNR will be able to change the minds of people “who want the
park for themselves.”
Mihalo said the Save the Dunes Council has fought many battles over the
decades to open the park and shoreline to public access, not to block it.
“I’m sorry he hasn’t gotten to know us very well,” she said. “It’s very
unfortunate he has that perception. He’s dead wrong.”