Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Porter tables fireworks request over safety and pavilion construction

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Changes the Duneland Chamber of Commerce is making for the upcoming Fireworks show at Indiana Dunes State Park July 1 raised questions for Porter Town Council member Elka Nelson and resulted in the Council tabling its annual monetary contribution Tuesday night.

Chamber President Maura Durham said the plan is for technicians to light the fireworks from the shoreline at the state park, east of the bathhouse, eliminating the additional cost of using a barge as in years past. Snow fencing and barricades will be used to block off the crowds a safe distance away, she said.

The new set-up has met with approval from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, according to Durham.

Nelson questioned Durham on what the environmental impact would be of having the fireworks on the beach, saying that a lot is being “kicked around at the state park” with the current reconstruction work on the Dunes Pavilion by Pavilion Partners, LLC, which she also raised as a safety concern for the event. But Nelson also said that her statements isn’t to say there shouldn’t be construction.

Nelson was also worried that the Town of Porter employees would get stuck with the clean-up and pointed out that Porter routinely dishes out more funds for the fireworks -- $3,000 -- than Chesterton, which pays $2,500, and Burns Harbor, which pays $2,000, and yet Porter “gets treated like the orphan.”

“The way we can help some of our employees in our departments is by saying no to some of this stuff,” she said.

Durham said that if Porter decided to lower its contribution by $500, she believes that businesses in Duneland would be willing to kick in funds to make up the difference.

The Chamber wishes for the three Duneland communities to get on board, Durham said, as it feels “it makes a positive statement” to the 13,000 to 20,000 anticipated attendees, some from outside Porter County, to see the collaboration across town lines.

“(The event) brings a lot of people to see our communities working together with our fire, police and town councils,” Durham said. “It captures all of what our communities are able to provide.”

Durham said she also wishes for the event not to make any harmful impact on the environment.

Council President Greg Stinson pointed out to Durham that as the Chamber is working to keep costs down and save some money, the request for town to pony up $3,000 is the same expense as in past years. “I would like to see some savings come back to the town,” he said.

Council member Jeannine Virtue made the motion for the Council to pay the $2,500 out of CEDIT money for its contribution, but the discussion drifted further into how safety would be handled and what liability the town would have.

Nelson said she would like to know more details and examine the contract the Chamber has proposed with the company running the fireworks show and discuss it with town attorney Gregg Sobkowski.

The Council voted unanimously 5-0 to table the request until the next meeting so it can receive more information.

Porter Police Chief Jamie Spanier said he wouldn’t know how many town police officers are needed until he sees the final plan.

Durham said the delay shouldn’t be a problem as last year it wasn’t until the end April when planning among the towns began and there will be enough time for the Chamber to approach businesses to discuss potential sponsorships.

Prior to the discussion, resident Jennifer Klug spoke out on Chamber’s request, saying she would rather see “the people with money behind” Pavilion Partners chip in for the fireworks than the town, which she said is struggling with its budgets. “We have so many needs, so many expenses we’re facing. I think the money would be better spent on the town than the fireworks,” Klug said.

 

Posted 4/15/2015