Indiana Dunes States Park Pavilion

A view of the Indiana Dunes State Park Pavilion in Chesterton is pictured. A restaurant is planned for this location as part of a major renovation.

CHESTERTON — Work has begun again on the restoration of the pavilion at the Indiana Dunes State Park.

It is also meeting with continued protests.

"The DNR (Indiana Department of Natural Resources) still hasn’t obtained a Certificate of Approval from the Historic Preservation Review Board,” Jim Sweeney, Dunes Action co-founder, said this week in a news release. "By re-starting construction without one, we believe they are in violation of Indiana law, so we’ve reported this violation to the Porter County Prosecutor."

Tara Wolf, director of communications from the DNR, disagrees, saying the DNR has been issued a letter of clearance.

The prosecutor's office has also declined to act on the latest complaint, she said.

Wolf provided a letter dated Jan. 28, 2015, to Pavilion Partners LLC managing partner Chuck Williams. The letter indicates the Department of Historic Preservation Review Board granted the permit with qualifications earlier in January 2015.

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Dunes Action and others groups have been protesting plans to restore the pavilion and the contract awarded by the DNR to Pavilion Partners LLC in 2011 to renovate the deteriorating pavilion and operate food services at the state park. They also object to the construction of a banquet facility at the site.

Although Dunes Action is generally supportive of the pavilion restoration, the group objects to the addition of two balconies, the use of the concrete promenade below them for dining areas, and the addition of a glass-walled bar on the pavilion roof, all of which affect its architectural design and integrity, Sweeney said.

On Thursday, Pavilion Partners member Tom Collins confirmed workers had begun removal of masonry around the windows in preparation for installing new windows which will be reflective of the pavilion's origin. A construction fence has been placed around the area for safety.

Collins said the group received a construction design release from the state Jan. 4 allowing them to continue the renovation process.

Collins said the project is in full swing and will move forward with the goal of completion by May 1, 2020.

The group constructed restroom and shower facilities about three years ago.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.