Gary council votes to spend $60,000 on tourism
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent August 20, 2013 10:34PM
Updated: August 21, 2013 1:01PM
GARY — Funds to be used for attracting tourism to the city raised audience members’ eyebrows during Tuesday night’s Common Council meeting.
The council voted 7-0 — with Councilwomen Kim Robinson, D-5, and Carolyn Rogers, D-4, absent — to pass an ordinance establishing $60,000 of the 2013 tourism appropriations. The city will pay $30,000 to market the new Marquette Park, while $28,000 will be split the following ways: $5,000 will pay for a Sept. 17 dinner for legislators; $5,000 for a dinner for bankers and business people seeking to invest in the city; $5,000 for the annual Michael Jackson commemoration; $10,000 for Genesis Center marketing; and $3,000 for miscellaneous marketing materials and souvenirs.
The last $2,000 will go toward print materials, City Controller Celita Green said.
Residents bristled at the money’s use, saying that the city’s already spent $28 million on the Marquette Park overhaul, so the money should not be used for tourism, but continuing to clean up the city.
“Our city lacks infrastructure, it lacks community policing and it’s dirty,” said resident and activist Resso Ross. “We need to put something unique here so we don’t have to bribe people to come here. We’re not ready for (tourism) right now.”
Councilwoman Mary Brown, however, said the money, which comes through the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, is mandated by state law and can’t be used for anything else.
In other business, the council voted 5-2, with Councilmen Ron Brewer, D-At-Large, and Ronier Scott, D-6, casting the dissenting votes, to appropriate $85,000 of Gary Housing Authority money to the city’s law department. Corporation Counsel Niquelle Allen said the department starting doing general work for the Gary Housing Authority last year.