Gary marina access road finally to be built this summer
By Michael Gonzalez Post-Tribune correspondent March 7, 2013 9:06PM
More lawyers hired by city
Lawyers continued to fare well in City Hall during Wednesday’s Board of Public Works and Safety meeting.
The board approved an open-ended, $10,000-a-month contract for Barnes and Thornburg, a legal behemoth with 500 attorneys based in Indianapolis, to advise Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson on infrastructure development and other matters.
Lawyers from the firm already have made their presence known. Nearly two weeks before the board approved the contract, attorney D. William Moreau Jr. represented Freeman-Wilson via phone during an ad hoc committee’s meeting on possibly establishing a public-private partnership to manage the Gary/Chicago International Airport.
According to a letter from Moreau to Freeman-Wilson, he and his colleagues will work on “the evaluation of the City of Gary’s capital assets and ways to maximize the value of those assets to the citizens of Gary.”
While the $10,000 monthly fee includes mileage, postage and other “out-of-pocket expenses,” Moreau wrote the firm expects “to devote hours to this engagement that will far exceed $10,000 per month in value.”
Moreau also noted his firm has represented a number of entities that work with Gary, including Majestic Star casinos, the Gary Airport, Indiana-American Water and VC Energy, the firm that owns the former Georgia Pacific plant, a site that was eyed for an alternative energy facility until Wednesday.
“Barnes and Thornburg will provide advice on the development of Gary assets,” Freeman-Wilson said in an email Thursday. “We will specifically look at the Genesis Center, Buffington Harbor, Hudson & Campbell, the Gary/Chicago International Airport, the RailCats stadium and other community assets to determine the best short-term and long-term strategy. The contract will be funded from my professional services budget.”
Updated: May 9, 2013 2:26AM
GARY — The much-contested casino marina access to and beyond Buffington Harbor will see its last phase begin later this year after the Board of Works and Safety on Wednesday approved state funding for the project.
The board also deferred approving a federal loan request from a nonprofit housing company to build low-income housing.
Gary Planning Director Dwayne Williams, who also is the newest member of the Board of Works, said contracts to finish building the marina access road should be awarded in mid-summer, and work should wrap up in about 18 months.
The Indiana Department of Transportation will foot the bill on the early work of this last phase with $1.5 million to start.
“This is just completing our portion of the contract,” Williams said. “There’s going to be more money to come for that road. (INDOT has) made a commitment to the city to make sure we’re going to build that road.”
The road has been a point of ongoing contention between Gary and the owners of the Majestic Star casinos. Casino officials have said the city was responsible for building an access road that begins at Cline Avenue and takes motorists past the casino toward an industrial site.
The board put off until next week a request by C.R. Works, a local nonprofit, for a forgivable $900,000 loan in U.S. Housing and Urban Development money. The request was made through the city’s Community Development department, which disseminates such federal funds.
According to documents submitted to the board, C.R. Works, which soon will open the first phase of a low-income housing community called Comfort Vilas, received similar loans in 2010 and 2011.
In other business, the board approved a move by the city’s Public Works Department to buy salt through the state of Indiana’s quantity purchasing agreement, where municipalities pool their resources to buy commodities at a locked-in price.
The board also amended a contract with Comprehensive Care Inc. and Comprehensive Therapy, two occupational health firms, for employment and random drug screens, accident investigations and other on-the-job inquiries.
The new contract extends the companies’ work through the end of May and increases its compensation by $15,000, topping out at $25,000.