PORTER | The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has abandoned plans to build a parking lot and picnic shelter at Porter Beach after receiving public comments that were not in support of the plan, said Bruce Rowe, public information officer for the IDNL.
Despite receiving a Finding of No Significant Impact from the National Park Service for the Wabash Avenue/Porter Access Site for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a formality of the plan process, officials decided to scrap their plans and instead go with an alternative plan to improve a sidewalk, restore the dune north of the town parking lot, and repair a leaking foot wash at the area commonly known as Porter Beach.
“We had one public comment session where folks could give their input and we opened it up to a public comment period on the website and after that period, based on the feedback we received, it was decided that we would not put the additional parking lot in, we would not put the picnic pavilion in, and instead we would make the improvements,” said Rowe.
The Town of Porter had issued a letter to the NPS during its public input period that stated concerns with traffic flow and safety, which would only be increased when an additional parking lot was added to the area.
“Simply stated, the Town of Porter is firmly opposed to the NPS plan as proposed. We feel that this was a purposely misrepresented attempt to circumvent public opinion and that the NPS should focus on improving the area as stated in the external scoping sessions instead of expanding parking,” stated the letter signed by Elka Nelson, president of the Porter Town Council, and Michael Barry, director of Development, in the letter submitted last August.
After the decision not to build was sent to the town, Nelson responded to the decision to eliminate the parking lot from the plan and said, “We are excited about the result and the town is pleased that they recognized the burden that the extra parking lot would have created.”
“We want to thank everyone for their efforts in responding and the overwhelming participation. We are hopeful that with the future appointment of a new superintendent that moving ahead we will have a more cooperative relationship with the NPS,” said Nelson.