The Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University is continuing its proactive Civic Engagement project with Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a unit of the National Park Service, and the neighboring communities of Ogden Dunes, Porter Beach, Dune Acres and Beverly Shores to develop stronger and more mutually beneficial relations through 2010.
The next phase of the project will consist of public workshops which will be held with the communities and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore representatives and facilitated by the Eppley Institute. All residents are encouraged to participate. Meeting dates and locations will be announced on a quarterly basis through the local press and communities. The quarterly meetings will address specific topics with an informative document available to the public before meetings providing background information as a basis for discussion.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to come to a meeting, become informed about the issues and to work together to find projects and solutions that make sense for the communities and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore,” said Andrea Titzer, Project Manager for the Eppley Institute.
The Eppley Institute, specifically through this civic engagement project, implemented a plan to gather and compile information, to inspire dialogue that allows the National Park Service (NPS) to initiate discussion and implement programs and practices that will establish a greater public understanding of the NPS mission, and to foster an atmosphere of trust, collaboration and mutual understanding with these communities.
Phase one of the project was completed in February 2009, when the Eppley Institute conducted an interview process among 30 stakeholders from the four communities. This aspect of the project targeted dedicated community leaders whose involvement varied from councilperson to home association board member. Through these interviews, the Eppley Institute was focused on identifying challenges that faced both private landowners as well as local and federal government that surfaced when the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s boundary was initially drawn in a way that retained private homes and land ownership surrounded, or partially surrounded, by park land. The Eppley Institute aims to help the NPS find long-term approaches to handling these challenges that mutually benefit all parties involved and affected.