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Great Lakes Article:

Differing views offered on Marquette Greenway
By Tim Zorn
Post-Tribune (NW Indiana)
Published November 18th, 2004

HAMMOND — The proposed Marquette Greenway plan for re-making Northwest Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline is:

A. visionary

B. long overdue

C. part of a scheme to drive homeowners away by making their properties unaffordable

Anyone attending the proposed plan’s final public meeting Wednesday could hear all those viewpoints.

The Marquette Greenway plan, proposed a year ago by U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky D-Merrillville, was developed since early May by planners who gathered information from citizens, environmentalists and public officials.

Its driving principle, lead planner Gregg Calpino said, is that “the waterfront is a place for people.”

If all of the plan’s recommendations were carried out, Calpino said, more than 80 percent of the Lake Michigan shoreline from the Illinois border to Burns Waterway would be open to the public; now, only 33 percent of that 21-mile stretch, dominated by industries, is open. The plan also would create more than 2,000 acres of new parks, mostly out of now-unused industrial land.

Short- and long-term proposals were outlined on more than a dozen maps displayed on seven large easels at the rear of the Purdue University Calumet meeting room, filled with more than 100 people.

Some people welcomed the proposals.

“Now is the first time in 100 years this lakefront can be redeveloped for people instead of industry,” East Chicago resident Paul Myers said.

But many — particularly residents of Gary’s Miller area — were suspicious that the plan was part of a plot to take over their area.

“Quit talking to us as if we’re stupid,” Sharon Russell said, as she contended that “pricing people out of their community” would be one of the plan’s redevelopment tactics.

Megan Cecil, also from Miller, said she likes the concept of developing new recreation opportunities. But, she said, “our public officials have created such distrust, it’s hard for us to accept this.”

The planners insist the Marquette Greenway plan’s redevelopment strategies are aimed at the region’s industrial land, not residential property.

And without new commercial and industrial development, economic development planner Matthew Reardon said, homeowners will shoulder even more of the tax burden than now.

Hobart resident Sandy O’Brien liked the plan, which she called visionary, but asked how it will be implemented.

The five cities that participated in the plan — Hammond, Whiting, East Chicago, Gary and Portage — can adopt elements of it in their own community’s plans, Calpino said.

The planners also proposed that the Lake Michigan Shoreline Development Commission, created by state legislators in 2001 but never funded, be empowered to oversee the plan’s overall development.

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