Chesterton Tribune



Ton: Town Council should take position on beach conference center

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Two weeks ago, Rich Whitlow appeared before the Chesterton Town Council with some scathing words for the DNR and a plea to members to go on the record as opposing the construction of a banquet facility at the Pavilion site at Indiana Dunes State Park beach.

Members declined at the time to make any collective pronouncement on the banquet facility envisioned by Pavilion Partners LLC, the private half of the DNR’s private/public partnership. Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, appeared to be speaking on behalf of all his colleagues when he said that the council would need substantially more information on the project before it would consider passing judgment.

Two weeks later, the council is having a re-think on the matter.

Member Jim Ton, R-1st--who has already publicly voiced his opposition to the banquet facility, at least to an additional banquet facility’s construction next to the Pavilion and overlooking the beach--took a moment at the end of Monday’s meeting to suggest that perhaps members have something to say about the project after all.

The actual form of the statement is less important than a statement’s being made, Ton said. It could be a resolution adopted by the council. It could be a letter forwarded to the DNR. But it should address the issue of transparency--“or the lack of it,” he said--and that of “the appropriateness” of the banquet facility itself.

Ton--who volunteered to work with Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann in drafting the document--said that the council has a responsibility in this matter. “We owe it to the community to make some sort of statement.”

Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, for his part, said that he really would like to see the DNR apply itself more diligently to responding to the community’s questions about the project. “If they can only give us some of the answers to some of the questions that have been raised.”

Ton concurred and added that the council’s interest in the matter could very well take the form of a “fact-finding” or an “inquiry.”

“We can take it in that direction,” Ton said. “But I think the sooner the better.”

Ton, for the record, was a member of the not-for-profit group whose proposal for the restoration of the Pavilion was rejected by the DNR in favor of the Pavilion Partners proposal.


Posted 5/12/2015




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