The City of Gary’s ongoing blight elimination efforts will again receive the support of the Indiana National Guard. The National Guard will join forces with Gary’s in-house demolition team to demolish a number of vacant properties on the city’s east side.
In September 2017 the Indiana National Guard worked in the city for two weeks. During that time 22 structures were demolished in the 1900 Block of Maryland Street and in areas from 8th-19th and Madison Street. The Indiana National Guard took down 11 structures; 11 were taken down by the city’s in-house demolition group.
This year the National Guard will increase its presence in Gary, planning to spend two months in the city tearing down more vacant properties in the same vicinity as last year.
Demolition in the 1900 Block of Delaware Street began August 2 and will conclude the first of October. This phase of the demolition project includes up to 14 properties. If the demolition of the properties is completed prior to October 1, the National Guard will demolish other properties between 16th and 17th and Virginia Street.
In addition to in-house demolition, general services will also support the blight elimination project.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says, “Since 2012 we have been aggressively working to tackle blight in the city. We have worked hard to identify resources and partnerships to help in our blight elimination and demolition efforts. As a result, through the use of Hardest Hits Funds, local dollars and through partnerships with entities like the Indiana National Guard, our demolition efforts have been accelerated.”
The city reached out to the Indiana National Guard last year after being apprised of federal dollars that could possibly assist the city in demolition efforts. According to Freeman-Wilson, “The National Guard has been a willing partner and extremely helpful. We are grateful for the continued partnership that supports our initiatives to eliminate blight in our city.”
Indiana National Guard officials commented, “This mission helps rid neighborhoods of gangs, drugs and associated violent activity and allows for community revitalization. Together, this joint effort between the city and the INNG creates a great program to make the streets, as well as the community safer for all those living in and around the neighborhood. It’s a win-win situation. Our service members gain valuable experience with the equipment and the community will not only look better, but will be safer.”
The Indiana National Guard will utilize federal dollars earmarked to address the suppression of drug activity in communities to support the project.