The unquenchable beast that is capitalism is so ever-present that even the country’s most prized and beautiful lands, our National Parks, have felt its wrath. Now, it seems that even our very own Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore isn’t safe from it.

The company Pavilion Partners LLC is stepping in to fix up the Dunes’ main beach pavilion, replacing the old, dank bathrooms and updating the concession stand. But that project comes with a price, as the company also seeks to implement an evil plan for the Dunes.

Brace yourselves: They want to put a new banquet hall alongside the pavilion.

Wait...a banquet hall? That’s it?

Well, whether or not it actually happens now is unclear, as the proposal got a decidedly negative reaction at a town hall meeting in Chesterton last week. Pardon me for not being too outraged, but this isn’t exactly equal to drilling for oil in Yellowstone (and for those who care about the environment and keeping the country clean, there are people who want to do that in our National Parks).

Honestly, it does seem a little tacky to try to stick a fancy dining facility in the middle of the Dunes, or even mid-level dining at that. The Dunes are about enjoying the outdoors, of appreciating the peace and beauty of nature. Going there to have an experience better suited for indoors sort of defeats the purpose. If you want to eat a nice meal in full view of the Lake, there are plenty of places in Chicago that offer that.

But the only reasons I’d be outright against the idea is if it affected the park for the worse. For instance, if it upsets the natural ecosystem or plant and wildlife, or if it would create substantially more garbage that could blow around the beach (though this would only be a problem if it’s open air). Or, if a rentable banquet hall would potentially lead to the park itself being taken for private parties.  I’m strongly opposed to that, as the Dunes should be open to everybody.

Short of any of that, however, I’m pretty neutral. I love the Dunes and visit them at least a few times a year, and the presence of a banquet hall in the pavilion won’t likely change that.

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