Chesterton Tribune



Jim Ton raps DNR response to Town Council questions on Pavilion project

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Republican Chesterton Town Council member Jim Ton got vocal again over the issue of the proposed banquet center at Indiana Dunes Park on Monday, expressing dissatisfaction with Indiana Department of Natural Resources Director of State Parks Dan Bortner’s response to questions about public input and transparency.

The Council -- which has not taken an official stance on the banquet center -- sent a letter with its questions on May 26 and received a response from Bortner on June 12.

Ton at the previous Council meeting on July 13 gave the press a summary of the questions and responses but refrained from making comments, waiting to see if anything more would be explained at a public meeting held by the Porter County Visitors Commission on July 16.

“Really nothing had changed,” Ton said, and he took issue with Bortner’s statement on how public input has been sought and considered.

To the Council’s question of how has the DNR responded to concerns of transparency, Bortner said comment cards were taken at an open house in April.

“That’s really not the proper way to engage in dialogue,” Ton said.

What Ton hoped to find out was why the public wasn’t brought in when Pavilion Partners LLC started on plans for the Pavilion renovation and the banquet/conference center.

“There was no vetting of the whole concept before the contract was signed.” Ton said.

Bortner did answer one of the questions saying that the final concept for the banquet facility will not be completed for some months and any comments or input should be emailed to

The fact that the DNR and Pavilion Partners decided to build a banquet center before the public could have a say in the matter, Ton said, has resulted in “neighbors turning against neighbors,” which could have been prevented had the DNR started with letting the public in from the beginning. He describe it as “dysfunctional decision making.”

Ton clarified that he was “not slamming” everyone at the DNR and believes it has “many good workers.” His comments were directed to Bortner and anyone else who gave the responses.

None of the other Town Council members made any additional comments.

Ton was a member of a second group called Dunes Pavilion Renaissance which submitted a proposal for the restoration of the historic Pavilion, which the DNR turned down in favor of Pavilion Partners.

The DNR has created a webpage that includes FAQs and documents related to the Pavilion project at


Posted 7/28/2015




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