Chesterton Tribune



Porter Town Council asks attorney to check on Pavilion plans following Whitlow request

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Jackson Twp. resident Rich Whitlow made his second appearance this week at a town council meeting, asking Porter officials to send word to Governor Mike Pence and the DNR to stop work by Pavilion Partners at Indiana Dunes Pavilion.

One night after asking the Chesterton Town Council to take action, without much success, Whitlow appeared at the Porter Town Council meeting Tuesday asking the Council to pass a resolution to stop the construction at the Indiana Dunes State Park.

Whitlow didn’t let loose on backers of Pavilion Partners as much as he did at Chesterton, but continued to denounce the DNR for not putting before the public the permits or the plans for the pavilion renovation and proposed 30,000 sq. ft. banquet center.

“What is our legacy going to be in 65 years? This? I find that unacceptable.” Whitlow said, addressing his points so loudly he joked the Council might need to get the police to remove him from the meeting.

Highlighting the natural beauty of the Dunes, Whitlow said he figures that based on the assessment of unused property at Worthington Steel in Porter, Indiana Dunes State Park at 2,000 acres could be worth $2.5 billion.

Whitlow let the Council know he is “in complete opposition” to the proposed project, but he said he would agree that the pavilion is in need of renovation.

He then asked if the Porter Fire Department has seen the plans, saying they would need to have them since they are primary fire response unit. Assistant Fire Chief Jay Craig said the blueprints have not been brought to the department.

Whitlow also thinks the Town should have received a sewer treatment plan for the pavilion site, since the sewer would have to come through town from Chesterton.

Council President Greg Stinson told Whitlow, as the Chesterton Town Council did, that the Town has no power over the matter as the state park is part of unincorporated Porter County.

Both Stinson and Council member Elka Nelson said they have publicly expressed their opposition to what is being done, but did not feel a town council resolution was necessary.

Nelson commented that Whitlow’s is the “most unusual request” she’s heard in her years as a Council member.

Stinson and Nelson agreed on the merits of Whitlow’s claim about the plans and asked the Council’s attorney Gregg Sobkowski to determine for them if the town would need to have the building plans on hand. If so, they could put in a request to receive them.

Council member Jeannine Virtue said she would need to recuse herself if the Council decided anything since her husband is involved with the project.

Whitlow said he has “a lot of respect” for the Virtues for “standing tall” at the recent open house hosted by DNR at Chesterton Middle School. “They should be proud of that,” he said.

The Porter County Plan Commission has also reported not having the plans, Whitlow said. He will try to ask the Indiana Building Law Compliance Office next.

Whitlow said he intends to approach the town councils of Portage, Ogden Dunes and Michigan City -- lakefront communities -- to see if they would take measures to stop the work at the pavilion.


Posted 4/29/2015