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
the forum by addressing his customary three issues: national security,
steel, and “transformational investments in Northwest Indiana.”
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.”
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.
School eighth-grader Makenzie Simmons led constituents in the Pledge of
Allegiance, while Peter Girzadas introduced Visclosky.