Chesterton Tribune



Rich Whitlow rips DNR and Pavilion Partners at Town Council meeting

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Rich Whitlow hoped to persuade the Chesterton Town Council at its meeting Monday night to adopt a resolution urging the DNR to halt all work at the Indiana Dunes State Park Pavilion site.

He raised interesting questions about the permitting process; threw a lot of barbs southward, in the direction of Pavilion Partner principal Chuck Williams and on the subject of Republican cronyism; and revealed quite an astonishing contempt for the Times, which has endorsed the banquet center.

When it was all said and done, however, Whitlow was unable to prevail on the council--on which he himself served, once upon a time--to consider such a resolution: not yet, not unless, not until, maybe not ever, but certainly not without further information, as Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, told him.

Whitlow opened his presentation--which had something of the impromptu about it--with a shot across the DNR’s bows. “The State of Indiana is taking a crap on Northwest Indiana and telling us to eat,” he said. And that property on which the proposed banquet center would be built? The DNR’s giving it away, for free, “to our friends in Valpo.”

Whitlow focused his attention, however, on what may or may not be mysteries: which agency--state or local--issued a building permit for the project? and where, exactly, right now, are the construction design release prints which, he says, are supposed to be posted at a work site?

Conversations with a number of state bureaucrats--whom Whitlow did say were trying to be helpful--cleared nothing up, he said. And the questions remain. “I find it interesting they don’t have a building permit,” he said. “And nobody can find the prints.”

“This is the most pristine beach in Northwest Indiana and these guys are trying to ram a pole barn down our throats,” Whitlow added.

For the record, Whitlow’s presentation was the most impassioned heard by the council in years. And, in its way, the most entertaining.

Thus he compared himself to Chuck Williams: “I’m a Republican. He’s not my Republican, I can tell you that.”

And he spoke of Pavilion Partners principal Tom Collins Jr., son of Collins Sr., CEO of Luke Oil: “It’s not unusual for the second generation to think of itself as entitled.”

Whitlow also lambasted the Times for its coverage and cheerleading of the Pavilion project. Was there even a Times reporter at the meeting to carry the message back to his or her editor? Who knows.

Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, after giving Whitlow his head, at last interrupted him. “We can’t really help you,” she said. By which Darnell evidently meant that the Chesterton Town Council has no jurisdiction at all in the matter.

But Whitlow insisted. “We have to get help from a municipality,” he said. “Because nobody else will. The John Evans-types aren’t helping us.”

What specifically do you want? Darnell asked.

The council’s adoption of a resolution calling on the DNR to stop work, Whitlow said.

DeLaney, for his part, suggested that he does in fact find the substance of Whitlow’s questions intriguing. “But until we know a little more, we need to take this under advisement,” he said.

“How long?” Whitlow pressed him. “Once they break ground (on the banquet center), they’re not going to stop.”

“When you have more issues, solid, substantial answers, come back to us,” DeLaney replied. “Until we know who issued the permit--Listen, nobody likes the way things have been done. I get that. But until we get more information. . . . I just don’t know enough.”



Posted 4/28/2015




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