Chesterton Tribune



Tribune asks Duneland Chamber to take stand against private Dunes State Park conference center

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An Open Letter To The Board of Directors of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce,

[The Chesterton 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 bidding.

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.

Some Chamber 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 beach.

The Chesterton 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.

David Canright, Editor Chesterton Tribune

(Shortened to meet the printed letter to the editor word limit)




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