Here they go again. This deal is exactly like the one we fought in Lincoln Park in 2008. The state of Indiana entered into a secret deal to privatize park of a public park.
Guest Commentary: Privatization of Dunes State Park pavilion and conference center at the beach draw fire
By Michael T. Sawyier
I read with some concern the celebratory article in the February 27 issue of your newspaper about the Indiana Dunes State Park Pavilion “rehabilitation” project that is now (finally) under way. My concerns are as follows.
First, as the lawyer for a group of very prominent local residents who had sought to carry out that same project, and submitted a bid to do so, some years ago by means of a publicly supported 501(c)(3) charity and its wholly-owned “L3C” operating subsidiary, I can state categorically that the DNR’s request for proposals ruled out any such additional construction as the massive new convention center next to the Pavilion that the private developer has now planned. Thus, I have a concern about the process that led to the DNR’s initial acceptance and two-year continuance of the private developer’s bid that was evidently conditioned upon that additional construction.
Second, despite the encomiums about that conference center offered up by the private developer’s paid public relations spokesperson in the article, I question whether the construction of such a purely commercial, private facility on the public beach itself alongside the Pavilion is consistent with the emerging public trust doctrine of beach property law. That is the doctrine which prohibits the State from selling off the public’s beach as so much supposed “excess property” to the highest bidder.