The state wants to build a Bicentennial Inn at Potato Creek State Park near North Liberty. Tribune File Photo/SANTIAGO FLORES
The state wants to build a Bicentennial Inn at Potato Creek State Park near North Liberty. Tribune File Photo/SANTIAGO FLORES
A $2.4 billion increase in the state of Indiana’s two-year revenue forecast, bolstered by federal COVID-19 relief money, has breathed new life into a decades-old dream to build a hotel at Potato Creek State Park.

The inn had been part of $55.5 million in projects that then Gov. Mike Pence announced in 2015 to mark Indiana’s bicentennial, to be paid for by leasing extra space on state-owned cellphone towers. The General Assembly that year approved $24 million for the project. But Gov. Eric Holcomb scrapped the idea soon after taking office in 2017, after cable and broadband trade groups objected, saying it gave one company an unfair advantage.

But on a request from Republican Sen. Mike Bohacek, whose district includes the park, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen, supported including the inn as one of 10 capital projects around the state eligible to tap into $550 million allocated in the recently enacted biennial budget bill. The state money has been freed up by the federal COVID-19 relief.

Ross Deal, the former Democratic state representative from Mishawaka, had made the inn one of his top legislative priorities before losing his seat to South Bend Republican Jake Teshka in the Nov. 2 election.

“I’m really excited that we now have funding for an inn at Potato Creek,” Deal said. “I think it’s important for our region. Jobs. Economic growth. Revenue for the state. There’s just all kinds of win, win, win things here.”
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