By PAULENE POPARAD
Porter Beach parking was discussed on two fronts Tuesday at the Porter Town
Property owner Carl Dahlin criticized National Park Service plans to expand
its public parking lots there, and he urged town residents to contact NPS by
the Aug. 9 deadline to receive comments on its draft environmental
assessment for the beach improvements.
Dahlin and Porter council president Elka Nelson both said the NPS upgrades
will further challenge already strained town fire and police services by
drawing more people to the beach.
“It is a very large burden as they add people and don’t add lifeguards or
rangers for crowd control,” pushing more of that responsibility onto Porter
and depleting its resources, said Nelson.
NPS maintains changes are needed at its Porter access site at Wabash Avenue,
and that the chosen alternative meets its overall goals by enlarging the
south parking lot while restricting the north lot to accessible parking only
in the summer; individual picnic platforms would be built adjacent to the
Nelson urged residents to study the NPS environmental assessment report, and
to consider that a large parking lot will replace dunes. The NPS document is
for review and comments can be left there. Copies also can be viewed at the
town hall or by contacting Nelson.
She said it appears NPS wants to allocate a grain of sand per person at
Porter Beach and everyone should take this proposal seriously. NPS has
stated its preferred alternative addresses pedestrian and vehicle
circulation, visitor facilities and parking options to protect park
resources and minimize impact.
In related Porter Beach news, Nelson said previously announced plans to
ticket/tow vehicles illegally parked on Dearborn Street temporarily are on
hold while the council has a draft license agreement prepared for
Such a license could allow parking on town rights-of-way in certain areas,
including but not limited to Porter Beach. Town department heads were asked
to study that area and others in Porter having similar situations, and to
prepare a report.
The long-time past practice has been for a group of Porter Beach residents
who formed an association to assess fees to maintain a parking lot on both
private property and a portion of Dearborn Street without the town being
compensated for the street’s use.
Nelson said she’s heard from a lot of people about the Dearborn situation
since planned enforcement of an existing parking ban was announced two weeks
ago. At that time she said her concern is making parking available to beach
residents whose properties are landlocked with no vehicle access.