Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Public urged to comment by August 9 on new NPS Porter Beach parking

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By PAULENE POPARAD

Porter Beach parking was discussed on two fronts Tuesday at the Porter Town Council.

Property owner Carl Dahlin criticized National Park Service plans to expand its public parking lots there, and he urged town residents to contact NPS by the Aug. 9 deadline to receive comments on its draft environmental assessment for the beach improvements.

Dahlin and Porter council president Elka Nelson both said the NPS upgrades will further challenge already strained town fire and police services by drawing more people to the beach.

“It is a very large burden as they add people and don’t add lifeguards or rangers for crowd control,” pushing more of that responsibility onto Porter and depleting its resources, said Nelson.

NPS maintains changes are needed at its Porter access site at Wabash Avenue, and that the chosen alternative meets its overall goals by enlarging the south parking lot while restricting the north lot to accessible parking only in the summer; individual picnic platforms would be built adjacent to the parking areas.

Nelson urged residents to study the NPS environmental assessment report, and to consider that a large parking lot will replace dunes. The NPS document is available at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/indu for review and comments can be left there. Copies also can be viewed at the town hall or by contacting Nelson.

She said it appears NPS wants to allocate a grain of sand per person at Porter Beach and everyone should take this proposal seriously. NPS has stated its preferred alternative addresses pedestrian and vehicle circulation, visitor facilities and parking options to protect park resources and minimize impact.

In related Porter Beach news, Nelson said previously announced plans to ticket/tow vehicles illegally parked on Dearborn Street temporarily are on hold while the council has a draft license agreement prepared for discussion.

Such a license could allow parking on town rights-of-way in certain areas, including but not limited to Porter Beach. Town department heads were asked to study that area and others in Porter having similar situations, and to prepare a report.

The long-time past practice has been for a group of Porter Beach residents who formed an association to assess fees to maintain a parking lot on both private property and a portion of Dearborn Street without the town being compensated for the street’s use.

Nelson said she’s heard from a lot of people about the Dearborn situation since planned enforcement of an existing parking ban was announced two weeks ago. At that time she said her concern is making parking available to beach residents whose properties are landlocked with no vehicle access.

 

Posted 7/24/2013