About three months ago, I wrote a post on the banquet center being built alongside the pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park, as well as residents’ concerns that it could affect the protected ecosystem or just disturb the shoreline’s natural beauty. I took the position that as long as it does no harm to the ecosystem or lead to the park as a whole becoming available for private reservation, adding a banquet hall is fine by me.
I’ve seen no reason to change that stance. In fact, in addition to assurances that no public land will be disturbed, the project’s artist’s depiction doesn’t even make it look like that much of an eyesore (much less so than the Whiting Refinery and other industrial elements that pepper the skyline, for sure).
But while most concerns that were raised seemed focused on the land itself, one other issue in the matter passed under the radar: money. Specifically, what does this arrangement mean for the operators of the banquet hall, Pavilion Partners, LLC, the Dunes, and local taxpayers?
Well, for taxpayers, it means nothing, as the costs of the new facility’s construction falls solely on Pavilion Partners. In return, their lease on the facility runs for 35 years, with two 15-year renewal options.
Under the terms of that lease (which you can read for yourself), Pavilion Partners will pay $18,000 each year in rent on the property, as well as give two percent of the center’s revenue to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
As for taxes, the DNR did not respond to a request for comment. However, the lease agreement contains the following clause:
“Any and all taxes, which may be lawfully imposed by the federal government, by the State of Indiana or by any political subdivision thereof upon the personal property or business of the Lessee on the Leased Real Estate, shall be paid promptly as due by the Lessee.”
You can decide whether these terms are fair or not. I think it looks like a pretty standard public-private partnership agreement, myself, far from any sort of impropriety.