Chesterton Tribune

Save the Dunes rebuts DNR boss comments on State Park history

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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 park.

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.”


Posted 6/2/2006