- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

CHESTERTON, Ind. (AP) - Indiana Dunes State Park has implemented changes to curb incidents apparently committed by opponents to a contentious privatization deal for a proposed restaurant, bar and banquet center.

Property manager Brandt Baughman told The (Munster) Times (https://bit.ly/1Twc9rU ) the changes so far have eliminated any further incidents following two break-ins, a posted letter advising ways to sneak into the park and one visitor, upset over a long wait at the gatehouse entrance, throwing a drink in an attendant’s face and saying, “This is why the pavilion project isn’t needed.”

Baughman did not specify the changes that have occurred.

Gov. Mike Pence in March signed a law that will allow politically connected developer Chuck Williams of Valparaiso to sell alcohol at a pavilion that will include a banquet center. A local board and the state’s Alcohol and Tobacco Commission both had denied Williams a permit.

Opponents have pointed to favorable lease terms that grant Williams control of the site for decades in exchange for $18,000 in yearly rent and 2 percent of sales. Williams’ company said an alcohol permit was necessary to make the project viable.

Cameron Clark, director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said “juvenile acts” that have occurred at the park along Lake Michigan may be tied to the disdain for the pavilion project. He said park staff found a letter posted on the gatehouse door “that is clearly the work of someone opposed to the pavilion project.”

The letter included instructions on how to enter the park without paying gate fees, including simply ignoring park attendants. “Let’s get them where it hurts! Right in the pocketbook!” the letter said.

Clark said park staff has taken precautions to protect themselves and the park itself.

Baughman said it remains unclear who committed the incidents.

“All of these have been completely anonymous,” he said.


Information from: The Times, https://www.thetimesonline.com



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