Chesterton Tribune



Visclosky: NPS has no standing to intervene in banquet center deal

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The main take-away from U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky’s annual New Year’s forum in Chesterton, held at lunchtime on Friday at the town hall, is this: the National Park Service (NPS) has no legal standing to involve itself in the lease between the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Pavilion Partners LLC. And therefore Visclosky himself has no official dog in the fight.

Visclosky made his position on the issue clear during the Q/A portion of the event, when he commonly answers constituents’ questions presented to him on index cards. In this instance the question was rather more like an entreaty, namely, that Visclosky should assist NPS in enforcing the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (LWCF) of 1968.

“We have researched that issue,” Visclosky said. LWCF “doesn’t give the National Park Service any jurisdiction over the licensing process,” which he noted is a matter between a state agency and a private entity.

“The National Park Service is not in a position to intervene,” Visclosky added for emphasis.

As for pending legislation in the Indiana General Assembly--SB 188, for instance, and HB 1247, both of which would force the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to issue three-way permits to applicants, either the DNR or alcohol retailers, without local ABC oversight--Visclosky urged folks to make their feelings known to their state legislators.

One person in the audience made his feelings known to Visclosky. That, under LWCF, NPS may not find that a conversion has taken place until a banquet center has been built at Indiana Dunes State Park beach is “the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

On the contrary, the man told Visclosky, as he reads the act, under LWCF “they do have the authority to declare a conversion.”

There the matter stood.

Other Issues

Visclosky opened the forum by addressing his customary three issues: national security, steel, and “transformational investments in Northwest Indiana.”

Visclosky, ranking member on the Defense Appropriations Subcommi-ttee, reminded his constituents that “we remain a nation at war” and that “we owe a great debt to every woman and man who serves in our nation’s defense,” some 2 million of them. Of the situation in Syria, Iraq, the Middle East, the problems there permit of more than a merely military solution, Visclosky suggested. Also vitally important: “diplomacy, culture, and economics.”

Meanwhile, “steel continues to face many challenges” but there were two legislative successes last year, Visclosky said, giving the International Trade Commission and Immigration and Customs Enforcement more teeth in dealing with illegally traded steel imports.

On the subject of economic development in Northwest Indiana, Visclosky touted the Gary-Chicago International Airport and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s efforts to get a customs facility there; and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s work to expand the South Shore into West Lake County. “We do need to improve the existing (South Shore) line and expand service to Lowell and Valparaiso,” he said.

“If we do this right, we will have a transformed economy,” Visclosky promised.

Duneland Students

Chesterton Middle School eighth-grader Makenzie Simmons led constituents in the Pledge of Allegiance, while Peter Girzadas introduced Visclosky.


Posted 1/18/2016





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