IL: New dunes alcohol law pops top on new questions

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

IL: New dunes alcohol law pops top on new questions


Chicago Tribune

Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune

July 7, 2016

A recent emergency rule regarding the possession and consumption of liquor at Indiana Dunes State park does not lift the prohibition of alcoholic beverages there, an official with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said.

A representative from a local grassroots group, however, finds the rule confusing at best.

The emergency rule by the state’s Legislative Services Agency states, “A person may possess or consume an alcoholic beverage at Indiana Dunes State Park,” pursuant to state statutes signed by Gov. Mike Pence earlier this year. The rule took effect July 1.

Those statutes allow the DNR to apply directly to the state’s Alcohol and Tobacco Commission for liquor permits for its state parks, bypassing consideration before local liquor boards, and for liquor to be sold at the state park’s pavilion for consumption there or within 100 feet of the structure or its parking lot.

The temporary rule does not allow liquor on the beach or elsewhere at the park, DNR spokesman Phil Bloom said.

“A permanent rule will follow, but the temporary rule allows us to move forward in the meantime,” he said in an email.

Through a long-term lease with the DNR, Pavilion Partners has a contract to renovate the pavilion, which was gutted last year, and build an adjacent, 17,000-square-foot banquet facility.

Pavilion Partners was denied a liquor permit for the pavilion by both county and state liquor boards. The legislation passed in March to allow the DNR to apply for liquor licenses for its state parks was seen by critics as a work-around after Pavilion Partners failed to secure a permit.

“DNR has not yet applied for an alcohol permit. When application is made, Indiana Dunes State Park will still have the most restrictive alcohol rules of any of our parks. Alcohol service would be limited to the pavilion and banquet center, and possession or consumption of alcohol would be illegal anywhere else at IDSP,” Bloom said.

The language of the ruling and even the need for it confound Jim Sweeney, co-founder of Dunes Action, a local organization that opposes both the liquor license and the banquet center, though not renovation of the pavilion.

“I guess my question would be, ‘What’s the need for the temporary rule?’ Especially since it makes it look like you can drink anywhere,” he said.

Given recent melees involving drunken revelers at the beach in South Haven, Mich., and North Avenue Beach in Chicago, Dunes Action remains committed to prohibiting similar activity at the state park, Sweeney said.

“It’s something I’d hate to see happen here,” he said.