Marquette Park project has put Gary residents to work
By Michael GOnalez Post-Tribune correspondent October 24, 2012 2:12PM
Updated: October 24, 2012 5:10PM
GARY — The extensive Marquette Park Lakefront East project has been beset by delays and change orders, but it has put Gary people and companies to work, officials said Wednesday.
“The general contractors have worked in good faith to hire Gary people,” said city planning director Dwayne Williams. “We’re still trying to make sure Gary residents get work opportunities and get trade work, so they’ll have experiences they can take elsewhere.”
Derek Anderson, a manager with Skillman Inc., the construction management company in a joint venture with Advanced Construction, of Merrillville, on the project, said about 80 of the total 150 workers on the park rehab have been from Gary.
Anderson also said 29 percent of the work has gone to state-certified minority business enterprises, well over the 15 percent requirement, and 13 percent has gone to women business enterprises. Only 5 percent of the work was required to go to WBEs, he said.
The project is paid for by a $28 million grant from the Regional Development Authority. Initially, project officials complied with Gary city ordinances calling for a 10 percent advantage for Gary companies and local residents making up 66 and two-thirds percent of the work force.
But, when a subcontractor who was not from Gary threatened to sue officials over the hiring and local participation incentives, the RDA pulled those requirements. That came after work on the popular Marquette Park Pavilion had already begun.
When the RDA backed down from the ordinances, it made tracking participation by Gary residents, and the wages they earned, more difficult, Williams and Anderson said.
Of the $28 million grant, about $20 million went for actual construction work, while the balance was allotted for “soft costs” like design work, architecture and other professional services.
While neither Anderson or Williams had numbers detailing how much of the paid wages went to Gary residents, about $10 million of the project has been paid out in total wages.
The numbers from the pavilion work, which were tracked before the legal threat, backed up Anderson’s claims. Of 110 people working on the pavilion, 58 were Gary residents.
And, of the $1,828,542 paid out in wages for the pavilion, which is 95 percent complete, $1,045,428 went to Gary workers, Anderson said.
Williams said work continues, and the full project is scheduled to be completed by the end of December, well off schedule. He did not have exact numbers, but Williams said the landscaping contract is an example of putting Gary residents, about 12 of them, to work on the project.
“Even though the RDA doesn’t require (local hiring), this project is still putting Gary people to work,” he said.