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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - "Dunes pavilion work halted" [Updated]

Adding to a lengthy list of earlier ILB posts, Amy Lavalley of the Gary Post-Tribune reported Friday in a story that begins:

The Indiana Department of Natural Resource's plans to have Pavilion Partners begin renovation work on the interior of the pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park this fall appears to be in jeopardy because the project has not yet been approved by the National Park Service.

The state park has received grant money through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, which stipulates that land in the program be open for public use in perpetuity, and any changes in that land use require review by the National Park Service.

Although the ILB has been covering the Dunes Pavilion story since 2006, this is the first we've heard of the involvement of federal money in the pavilion renovation. More from the story:
The state park received its first grant under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act in 1972, for $174,862 to renovate the first floor of the pavilion. Seven additional grants have been received through 1987, some in conjunction with money awarded to other DNR parks, according to information provided by Kelly Pearce, a project officer with the NPS office in Omaha.

"They're given those grants for park purposes, to provide parks for their citizens and community, and we ask for that use in perpetuity," said Christine Powell, associate regional director for the park service's Midwest region office in Omaha.

If a grant recipient, which in this case is the DNR, wants to change how they're making use of their facilities, the NPS must take another look.

"If there's a change in use, we make sure access to parkland is made to the public, and that's the case here," she said.

Under a public-private partnership, Pavilion Partners is leasing the pavilion from the state park, with plans to turn the interior into a fine dining restaurant, among other amenities. Plans also call for a 17,000-square-foot banquet center adjacent to the pavilion. * * *
[A] June 14 letter from Roger Knowlton, acting chief of recreation grants for the National Park Service's Omaha office, to Cameron Clark, director of the DNR, states that further work at the pavilion cannot take place without the federal agency's approval. The interior of the pavilion was gutted last year and a comfort station with showers and restrooms was constructed.

"You inquired about moving forward with the pavilion restoration project. We informed you that work may not continue until the IDNR submits the project for approval to the NPS as either a Public Facility or Conversion of Use … We understand that IDNR would like to allow Pavilion Partners to start work in the fall, therefore we encourage IDNR to develop a proposal as soon as possible so that compliance with the LWCF program can be maintained," Knowlton wrote.

The DNR is working with the park service for the necessary approvals to move forward with the project as either a public facility or a conversion, Bortner said,

"We plan to commence the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process upon receiving guidance from NPS regarding the appropriate process," he said, which includes an environmental assessment and a historical preservation review.

The plans will be made public and there will be an opportunity for public comment, he said.

The pavilion use would be considered a public facility, Pearce said, "as long as there's a net gain to the recreational benefit of the park." If that's not the case, the DNR will be required to provide property to make up for what's been lost for recreational use. The land does not have to be in a nearby location, NPS officials said, though that's preferred if it's available.

[Updated 78/1/16] "Dunes pavilion work stoppage not expected to delay opening" - that is the headline to a July 30th AP story by Tom Coyne, that concludes:
Dan Bortner, director of the DNR's Division of State Parks and Reservoirs, said the DNR is waiting to hear from the Park Service on whether the renovated pavilion will be considered a public use facility, meaning it won't have to replace it with other park land. The DNR will submit the plan from Pavilion Partners once the Park Service makes a decision.

"This should all come together once we get some answers," Bortner said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 26, 2016 09:43 AM
Posted to Indiana Government