- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

CHESTERTON, Ind. (AP) - The firm developing a privately run banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park is addressing concerns raised by opponents while moving ahead with the project, a spokeswoman said.

Pavilion Partners LLC isn’t ready to release details yet, but the developers listened to critics of the banquet center, which has been scaled back to 17,000 square feet, spokeswoman Deb Butterfield told the Post-Tribune (http://trib.in/1HUBvaq ) for a story published Saturday.

“We’ll address the glass wall and other concerns,” Butterfield said. The developers proposed a movable glass wall in the banquet center facing Lake Michigan, but environmentalists have said migratory birds might fly into it.

State officials say the footprint of the building’s ground floor is about 8,650 square feet and will be built on existing concrete.

Pavilion Partners signed a 35-year lease with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in February to renovate and manage the park’s art deco pavilion, which dates to 1929.

Pavilion Partners has estimated the project will cost $3 million to $4 million. Its lease calls for the firm to pay the state $18,000 a year for 35 years, with two, 15-year options for renewal. The lease also calls for 2 percent of the banquet’s revenue to go to the state park system.

Opponents aren’t resting. Jim Sweeney, president of the Porter County chapter of the Izaak Walton League, sent a May 29 letter to the regional director of the National Park Service saying the lease agreement violates the federal Land and Water Conservation Act because it authorizes a private, nonrecreational use.

The DNR has updated the project’s website to included questions and answers about the project, and documents related to it.

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Online:

DNR project website: www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2980.htm

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Information from: Post-Tribune, http://posttrib.chicagotribune.com/

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