BEVERLY SHORES | The stars are brighter over this lakefront community thanks to some innovative thinking and community volunteers.
Last year, said Town Council President Geof Benson, there was some concern about light pollution cast by streetlights over the town of some 600 year-round residents. The town decided to undertake a dark sky project.
By lessening the light pollution, the stars would shine brighter, be seen easier and residents could more easily view astronomical phenomena such as meteors. But, like many small communities, the funding for such a project just wasn't available.
That's when the Association of Beverly Shores Residents stepped up and raised funds, said Benson, which allowed the town to replace all of its streetlights with down-shielding lights.
The ABSR is one of several community groups that assists the town, providing services and the extras that makes life in Beverly Shores unique.
Benson also pointed to the Police Action League, a 27-year-old group, which raises money each year to augment the department's police services. While the town pays salaries and purchases cars, the PAL supports the department by raising money for everything from uniforms to computers to paying the light bill through its annual policeman's ball.
Beverly Shores dates back to 1927 when Chicago developer Frederick Bartlett purchased 3,000 acres along Lake Michigan to develop an urban resort community. Bartlett, then his brother Robert, developed and sold off most of the property. The community became a town in 1947, developing slowly over the next few decades.
When the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was created, it enveloped nearly two-thirds of the town. That, too, makes it unique.
"Other communities are adjacent to it. We are the only one surrounded by it," Benson said of the national park.
That makes for a close, sometimes contentious, relationship between the two groups. However, last year the town worked closely with the new Dunes National Park Association to resolve one issue: visitors traveling through the town during the highly attended annual tour of World's Fair homes.
"We made that part of Lakefront Drive be one way for one day during the house tours," said Benson, adding that showed a willingness for both sides to work together.
Benson said conversations continue with the National Park Service on how to manage visitors and they work to explore solutions to benefit both sides.
Benson said another top edition to the town in 2012 was hiring Sue Resteau as the new marshal.
"She has done so many things," said Benson, pointing to her involvement working with senior citizens, conducting checks on their well-being and assisting them in whatever way possible.
The town also was innovative in repairing streets last year. Instead of hiring a private company, it hired Ogden Dunes, which has a street repair machine, to work with its street department to do necessary repairs, saving Beverly Shores money and helping out its neighbor.
The town's Plan Commission updated its comprehensive plan last year. It serves as a guideline for community development.
The plan envisions upgrades along the U.S. 12 corridor, the only commercial district, in the community. Benson said they are looking at a link between the South Shore train station and the campground just south of U.S. 12, including making the intersection of U.S. 12 and Broadway more pedestrian friendly.
The town will be looking at federal transit-oriented grant opportunities. It also has developed its own capitol planning committee to look at long-term planning for the community.