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City will work to correct mistake over redevelopment parcel

Updated: December 20, 2013 6:19PM

GARY — A top city official earlier this week announced his department will work to get the Board of Public Works and Safety to rescind a vote next year based on a mistake one of his departments made last week.

Last week, the Board of Works deeded a parcel roughly the size of eight city blocks to the city’s Redevelopment Authority, overseen by Redevelopment Commission President J. Forest Hayes, who also is the city’s Commerce Department director until the end of this month.

The authority was supposed to deed only a four- to seven-acre swath of the parcel stretching from to 5600 block to the 6400 blocks of Indiana Boundary Road, near the north end of Lake Street.

That smaller portion once was the site of a charter school and Coast Guard facility. Hayes, who attended the meeting when the faulty petition was given to the board, later said his office would correct the mistake and ask the board to rescind the earlier vote.

By deeding the property to Redevelopment, the city technically opened the door for private developers and others to acquire even beach front property for private projects.

The normally talkative Hayes, in his role as commerce director, issued an email statement in response to recent questions about this situation. In the statement, he said his office hopes “to return to the Board of Public Works in early 2014” to ask the board to rescind the earlier vote and accept the proper parcel.

“It is our goal to re-record the property as separate parcels to accurately reflect what is actually there,” Hayes wrote. “We will order a new survey of the actual site of the former Charter School of the Dunes, and the process or re-platting the larger parcel has already begun.”

Hayes, through Gary communications director Chelsea Whittington, declined to comment further or answer any more questions.

Neither Hayes nor one of his direct reports, Joseph Van Dyk, head of the Redevelopment Authority, knew when all eight parcels were consolidated into one.

Last week, Van Dyk took responsibility for his department’s mistake but downplayed the correction that would be needed.

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