Chesterton Tribune



Dunes Action issues statement against HB 1247

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Dunes Action has issued a statement against House Bill 1247, now in the Senate Public Policy Committee.

The statement reads “The Indiana Department of Natural Resources and certain business groups claim that economic benefit will come from serving alcohol at Indiana state parks, with the Dunes State Park as the case in point. However, we believe that House Bill 1247 will negatively impact both the park’s environment and nearby local businesses.”

Financial Return Questionable

“The financial return of Pavilion Partners’ project, which hinges solely on serving alcohol, is marginal and uncertain at best. At a presentation given to the Duneland Chamber on June 18, 2015, Pavilion Partners stated that the cumulative benefit to the DNR would be $8.75 million at the end of 35 years.

“Even if the estimate is accurate, this return to the state of Indiana is less than what the DNR brings into the state’s coffers in a single year. This amount is not worth the possible damage to the park or its surrounding communities. According to the state’s fiscal note on HB 1247, the DNR collected a total of $9.17 million from admissions and entrance revenues for Fiscal Year 2015 (which ended 6/30/15).

‘The DNR’s strategy for its park system appears to be to exploit the parks that are bringing in money,” the statement reads.

Damage to State Parks

“This strategy will not help to preserve Dunes State Park, and could also damage other popular parks and their nearby businesses. State parks were set aside for preservation, not commercialism. Businesses located in commercial areas near state parks are already subject to zoning restrictions, laws, and taxes that don’t apply to state parks. Automatic DNR liquor licenses will add yet another competitive disadvantage for small businesses to overcome, whether in Duneland or elsewhere in the state.

“In the case of the Dunes State Park, this will be done in spite of valid and widespread local citizen opposition to reintroducing alcohol. Dunes State Park is already an economic driver that attracts visitors to Chesterton and Porter to spend money at nearby small businesses.

“Rather than being partners in the economic community, small businesses will now be forced to compete with the DNR/Pavilion Partners, and this preferential law will grant an automatic license to serve alcohol where nobody else can,” DA stated.

“Heather Ennis of the NWI Forum has spoken extensively in support of HB 1247. It is unfortunate that the former president of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce seems to have so quickly forgotten the challenges faced by small businesses in Chesterton and Porter.

“Both DNR Director Cameron Clark and Ms. Ennis have stated that giving automatic liquor licenses to the DNR is the same as automatically giving them to the State Fair Grounds and Lucas Oil Stadium. It appears that those who push “economic development” make no distinction between state parks and paved-over pieces of ground. The function of a state park is dramatically different from the function of either a fair ground or stadium.

Last acre of ground

“In May of 1958, Senator Paul H. Douglas said, "The Dunes are a symbol of the crisis that faces all Americans. It is as though we were standing on the last acre and were faced with a decision of how it should be used. In actuality, it is the last acre of its kind. In essence, it foreshadows the time not too far removed when we shall in all truth be standing on that last unused, unprotected acre and shall be wondering which way to go.”

“Overdeveloping Dunes State Park and reintroducing alcohol there will forever alter its character. We must now protect both the last acre of its kind, and the communities that surround it,” the statment concludes.

Dunes ACTION! can be found on Facebook and at



Posted 2/8/2016






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