An Open Letter
To The Board of Directors of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce,
Tribune] ask that the
Chamber take a stand against . . . a private conference center at the
Indiana Dunes State Park beach.
The no-bid plan to
turn public property over to a politically-connected private group is
against everything the Duneland Chamber of Commerce stands for. It uses the
power of government to subvert the free market system to favor one group
over another at the expense of local businesses without public comment or
consideration of alternatives.
It tilts the level
playing field of the free market to benefit a political official and his
cronies while failing to ensure that the public’s interests are protected or
that taxpayers are getting a good deal . . . . The use of the term long-term
“lease” is a shell game to distract from the fact that priceless beachfront
property is being taken from the public for our lifetimes.
We read about these
practices each day in our AP international coverage, but it is not something
we would expect of the State of Indiana Department of Natural Resources
which has a tradition of open government, public hearings and competitive
To its credit the
Duneland Chamber has accepted the significance of the dunes, beach and lake
to our property values. In the late 1980s and into the 1990s the Chamber
supported expansion of the Dunes National Lakeshore and favored increased
funding for dunes programs and beach protection.
At the newspaper we
have received dozens of letters, emails and phone calls from area residents
opposed to this project. Of all the public issues we have covered in the
past 50 years this may be the one with the most lopsided public response.
members are already allowing petitions against the project at their
businesses. They see opposing the project as defending our community and
giving their customers what they want.
We ask that the
Duneland Chamber Board of Directors support family-oriented food service in
the historic pavilion building and promptly pass a resolution against new
structures and long-term monopoly leases at the Indiana Dunes State Park
Tribune was a founding member of both the first and second Chambers.
Publisher Warren R. Canright served as president of the first Chesterton
Chamber during the 1930s and his grandson Tribune Editor David
Canright served as board member and president of the Duneland Chamber during
the 1990s. The current publisher, Elizabeth Canright, is a
past winner of the Chamber’s Athena Award.
Editor Chesterton Tribune
(Shortened to meet
the printed letter to the editor word limit)