Gary’s University Park area gets a boost from grant
By Michael Gonzalez Post-Tribune correspondent October 17, 2012 1:54PM
Updated: November 19, 2012 3:13PM
GARY — The city’s drive to upgrade the University Park section of Glen Park got another boost Wednesday.
The Board of Public Works and Safety approved moving $815,357 in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program money from Community Development to the Department of Redevelopment to demolish houses and clear land.
The board also accepted an inspection report for part of a bike trail in Gary and paid for material to patch up potholes.
The city has aggressively renewed its push to clean up the University Park neighborhood. Several years ago, the city joined Indiana University Northwest and Ivy Tech Community College in announcing big changes to the area, but the program languished.
However, in the past few months, Community Development has used federal money to snatch up dozens of University Park houses on tax sales, and, last week, the city agreed to hire a Massachusetts-based consultant to revive the overall plan to develop the area.
With the transfer of federal money Wednesday, the Redevelopment Department will begin demolishing abandoned structures to clear the way for new development.
City planning director Dwayne Williams said the inspection the board accepted is for part of the bike trail scheduled to stretch from Buchanan Street to about Broadway, near the shuttered Union Station. It was unclear Wednesday how much the project will cost when it’s completed, but Gary will have to pay 20 percent of the project to get federal funding for the rest, Williams said.
The Green Link trail is part of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky’s Marquette Plan to rehab the region’s lakefront. NIRPC is spearheading the work.
City officials still have work to do on the trail. NIRPC’s plans call for the trail to run parallel with railroad tracks north of the Indiana Toll Road, while Williams said the city wants to move the trail south of the Toll Road, where lighting is better and the overall path may be safer.
“There is a demand for this bike trail in Gary, just as the bike trails are obviously being used on a regional basis,” Williams said. “But, there are some dark spaces (along the proposed route) and we want to move it just a little south.”
Finally, the board approved the purchase of $85,000 worth of hot and cold asphalt mix for patching, binders and other surfacing material from Rieth-Riley, a local company that has landed many of the larger surfacing projects through the city.
The city will get piles of the different materials to be used as needed over the next year.