By Giavonni Nickson
April brings the promise of warmer weather, sunshine, and spring cleaning in the City of Gary. As Gary residents welcome the spring season, the City of Gary and the Gary Common Council is sponsoring a citywide comprehensive, integrated cleanup program to eliminate blight and help beautify the city for residents and the anticipated visitors drawn to the city for business and recreation.
April 1 marked the kickoff of the citywide comprehensive, integrated clean-up program set to run through October 31.
The Gary Public Works Department, responsible for the cost-effective operation, maintenance, and construction of public infrastructure, announced a two-phase schedule to patch potholes, pave, and clean up debris throughout the city.
Some streets in the city will be paved through a secured Community Crossing Grant administered by the Indiana Department of Transportation, designed to enhance the State of Indiana’s overall infrastructure. Grant funds are used for 50 percent of the construction or purchase of materials.
Launched in 2016, the Community Crossings Matching Grant Program provides funding to cities, towns, and counties across Indiana to make improvements to local roads and bridges.
The city of Gary was awarded $1 million in 2019 to invest in infrastructure projects that catalyze economic development, create jobs, and strengthen local transportation networks. The Community Crossing Grant funds can also be applied to road resurfacing and preservation, bridge rehabilitation or replacement, road reconstruction with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance in connection with a road project. Grant funds may also support material costs for chip sealing and crack filling operations.
Gary Public Works commenced phase one of the cleanup program on April 1, paving Clark Road from 15th Ave. to Ridge Road. Other areas to be paved in phase one include 15th Avenue-Broadway to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive; Harrison Street-Ridge Road to 53rd Avenue; 45th Avenue-Harrison Street to Grant Street; Georgia Street-39th Avenue to 49th Avenue and Texas Street-North of 15th Avenue. Phase one will continue through April.
Crews are aggressively addressing potholes and will work overtime shifts throughout both phases of the paving schedule. City workers will be dispatched to neighborhoods according to the comprehensive plan to clean up debris and to assist in eliminating blight in the city. Teams from General Services, Green Urbanism, Recycling, Demolition, Board-Up, Code Enforcement, Traffic, Gary Sanitary District, and Parks will work together in neighborhoods for two days.
Phase two is scheduled to begin in May. City streets to be paved in this phase of the improvement initiative include a portion of Locust Street behind Shelby Street (Beach Café); Forest Avenue-Harold Avenue to Shelby Street; 2nd Avenue-Taft Street to Harrison Street; Harrison Street-2nd to 19th Avenue; Taft Street-7th to 10th Avenue; 15th Avenue-Clay Street to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive; Miller Avenue-Aetna Street to Lake Street; 6th Avenue-Illinois Street to Grant Street and Madison Street-19th Avenue to 21st Avenue.
The city encourages residents to join the city-wide clean-up effort. Bulk items may be placed curbside or in stationed dumpsters. Yard waste may also be bagged and placed curbside. Notification will circulate in neighborhoods before scheduled cleanups.
As the city kicks off its comprehensive, integrated city-wide clean-up program this month, the task force is also ramping up its efforts to educate and ensure business compliance in the city. The task force is making visits to gas stations, rental properties and other businesses that have attracted concern from residents. The team has also included reported dump sites on the schedule of places to visit.
“The task force is out to educate businesses and to encourage them to be in compliance,” stated Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. “We want to feel confident that those doing business in our city are aware of city ordinances and that they understand that following these ordinances help to improve the quality of life in our community.”
While the task force works to inspect businesses and properties thoroughly, the team also answers questions and addresses concerns of business owners. Companies have 30 days to be in compliance if the task force finds violations.
Members of the task force include the Building Department, Code Enforcement, the Gary Health Department, Environmental Affairs, Police, Fire, Constituent Services, and the Gary Sanitary District.
The city urges all Gary residents to utilize the city’s 311 system at 219-881-1311 or the 311 app on smartphones to report code violations, dump sites, submit pothole requests, and other requests for city services.
Giavonni is a passionate freelance writer native of Gary IN. She covers business, politics, and community schools for the Chicago/Gary Crusader.