Beverly Shores a community in harmony with nature

2012-12-30T00:00:00Z 2013-01-28T08:34:04Z Beverly Shores a community in harmony with natureBy Jon Voelz nwitimes.com
December 30, 2012 12:00 am  • 

“A community in harmony with nature” is the motto of Beverly Shores, and it captures not only the guiding principles but the unique challenges faced by a town surrounded by dunes, wetlands and beaches.

Like all towns, Beverly Shores provides services including roads, streetlights, green space, police and fire protection. However, Beverly Shores residents are committed to utilizing innovative and environmentally friendly ways to provide these services.   

Two recent projects demonstrate efforts to protect and restore the natural areas unique to the region. One such project transformed the main entrance into town by replacing turf grass with a native flower garden.  The garden, which received the Shirley Heinze Land Trust Bringing Nature Home Award this year, includes educational signs next to the plants for people desiring to turn their own property into a native landscape.

The other project created much needed additional parking by removing invasive shrubs and surrounding it with a beautiful wildflower landscape. 

A broad cross section of community groups worked together on these successful projects, including the Association of Beverly Shores Residents, Dunes Woman’s Club, Environmental Restoration Group, Park Board and Town Council.

"Our residents generously volunteer not only their valuable time but also contribute a wealth of ideas, talents and expertise,” said ABSR President Bill Gilmer. "When various community organizations and town government join together to collaborate on projects, outcomes often go beyond the feasibility of any one entity working alone."

In keeping with its motto, the town recently approved an ordinance to protect remaining steep dunes from construction damage. Volunteers also raised nearly $10,000 to install downward light shields on all of the town’s streetlights to reduce light pollution and enhance stargazing.      

As a town surrounded by the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Beverly Shores faces a set of challenges posed by being near the sites of so many of its visitors.  Although town residents number less than a thousand, the area becomes crowded with tens of thousands of visitors each summer. The intense use of the area strains the town’s limited resources, especially the streets, police and fire departments.

However, the town and the National Lakeshore have collaborated in recent years to repair roads and adjust traffic flow leading to heavily visited National Lakeshore sites near Beverly Shores, such as Kemil Beach and the Century of Progress Homes.

“This year we saw the completion of the major improvement project of East State Park Road by the National Lakeshore with Federal Highway Funds," Town Council President Geof Benson said. "We also made Lake Front Drive one-way during the Century of Progress Homes Tour to make it more orderly and a safer environment for the visitors.  It worked very well, and we will likely do it again next year.”

Beverly Shores also is home to a small number of businesses that serve residents and visitors, such as Jannsen’s Dune Mart, Dunes Antiques & Interiors, Firme Art and Office Supplies, Shore Liquors, the award-winning Rolling Stonebaker Pizza Truck and the popular Bartlett’s Gourmet Grill and Tavern. 

The town also welcomes visitors to its South Shore Depot Museum and Art Gallery, which features local artists and contains displays on the town’s history and significant architecture.

Beverly Shores is a town continually striving for balance between providing necessary municipal services and protecting the unique natural areas around it. It is a community realizing its motto of living in harmony with nature — making it a great place to live and play.

Jon Voelz served on the Beverly Shores Park Board, Plan Commission and ABSR Board of Directors. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's.

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