I received my order of “A Pattern Language” Yesterday from amazon. I can’t wait to get into it.
Today I had my final interview for Director of the East Chicago Waterway Management District. This was after submitting my application more than 9 months previously - a long, long process - today they offered me the position. So now, I am responsible for prehaps the single most polluted body of water in the country, along with an equally polluted parcel of land. The only thing that comes to minds is “well, lets clean it up.”
Here’s the Times article by Steve Zabrooski New E.C. Waterway chief has homework to do
The difficulty with this offer is that during these pass 9 months I was in need of income. Despite being appointed to the Redevelopment commission and I chairing a committee to develop a Comprehensive Plan for the City, all without pay, I seemed to be locked out of consideration for any other position. In the mean time life goes on, and I needed to pick-up work, so I picked-up a consulting job in an area of work from a previous life, developing medical education software.
Despite an agreement with my wife that she would take time off from work to be with the kids for a few years, she also looked around for a position. To our slight surprise and her enormous credit she was offered a position teaching at the University of Chicago Lab School, a position she often dreamed of. This helps us enormously as it also offers the benefit of a good school for our children to attend, a major consideration. The only problem is that the opportunity came too soon. Opportunities just can not be planned. My wife was looking forward to being home more with the kids. It is just an opportunity she can’t miss.
The following is a memo found in the papers left behind by ex-City Councilmen Frank Kollintzas from a resident of his district.
To: Mayor Pabey
CC: East Chicago City Council Members
Subject: Coordinating efforts
I encourage East Chicago to adopt the Marquette Greenway Proposal as a master framework for the redevelopment in East Chicago and from which all future projects and opportunities address. This is a great regional initiative offering vision and opportunities for East Chicago as it enters into a period of transition. This will require amending East Chicago’s Five Year Consolidated Plan, East Chicago’s zoning practices and the coordination of several primary city departments including: The East Chicago Planning Commission, Building and inspection, Housing and Redevelopment, and most importantly Business Development. This is a historic proposal that is infinitely doable and you are in the right place at the right time to prepare the groundwork.
For more than a century East Chicago has benefited from the steel economy and survived its adverse externalities. East Chicago has survived the technological advances that increase productivity but also translated into employment downsizing. It survived globalization that made this industry more competitive but translated into shipping jobs oversees. And it is surviving pollution, poverty, crime and corruption that translated into damaging the quality of life for all who live here. Since the first signs of decline in the steel industry in the early 1970’s East Chicago developed a diet for bottom feeding on the American economy, attracting the nations most undesirable industries in an effort to keep the community viable. It hasn’t worked. What it has brought about are decades of increased levels of pollution, poverty, crime, continued erosion of land for future development, and again lowering the quality of life for those who live here.
Our future depends on how we manage our way through this transition, including how we remember and forget the past. Before all else we need a coordinated plan and we need to work in concert to ensure that no one governing entity trades against this shared vision - knowingly or unknowingly. This also means that East Chicago involves itself more aggressively in regional initiative such as the Marquette Greenway Proposal, and the Gary/Chicago Airport. I worry that the lack of East Chicago evolvement of in the Gary/Chicago Airport will not only leave East Chicago out of opportunities but also bring the main runway up against Prairie Park. This would destroy any future plans we would have for the neighborhoods in the Harbor. Along with planning we need to be vigilant.
East Chicago has several great assets to build on as we manage our way through this transition. We still have a viable steel economy, although contracting as it may. We have our location on Lake Michigan. We have the reason this region was first exploited by industry - our juxtaposition to Chicago. We have a truly diverse culture. And we have our place in the historic heritage of the Calumet Region. A good start.
Place Holder for information relating to property taxes and the local tax levy.
PDF of the East Chicago Section of the Lake County Government Finance Study
Despite the fact that East Chicago is now the home of Mittal Steel, the worlds largest steel manufacturer, it still needs to grapple with the reality that steel production is quickly contracting and will very soon disappear from this region of the world. Below are three case studies of what can be done with the fallow brownfields left behind by steel producers. For many reasons East Chicago is fortunate to have survived as long as it has in the production of steel. This has provided the economic leaders of East Chicago with a wealth of case studies from which to learn. Although, East Chicago needs to work out a strategy tailored to its needs (to take advantage of unique opportunities), it has the strategies other municipalities have formulated from which to glean. In each case, the municipality had to retread its regional economy while adopting various reuse strategies.
1) South Side Works, Pittsburgh LTV Property: What makes this example enticing is the fact that much of the land in need of redevelopment in East Chicago was also owned by LTV steel. Like the South Side Works East Chicago is located with in 20 minutes from a major city center. In the case of East Chicago, it is 20 minutes from downtown Chicago.
- Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh
- Project Profile
The Sloss story rests on becoming a National Historic Landmark. Proponents of preservation organized the Sloss Furnace Association to lobby for saving the site for historical and cultural importance to the City and its role as a symbol of the technology that once made Birmingham the foremost industrial center of the South.
Emscher Park, opened in 1989, is a bold attempt to re-use one of the largest industrial wastelands in the world. Built on ecological principles, the park offers a range of high quality recreation facilities for local people and tourists, as well as housing and offices. “The idea was born in the 1999 regional economic strategy, which identified the need to take forward large-scale environmental projects that would benefit recreation and regeneration and have a good effect on the region’s image.”
For some reason the Marquette Plan is a relatively unpopular initiative in East Chicago leadership circles. Why, I do not understand. With a city that occupies about 12 square miles with about 40% of that land presently out of production (due to contamination or the impression of, consolidation of the steel industry or simply the last 20 years of local businesses filing for bankruptcy), you would think an opportunity like this would fetch more support. The Marquette Plan is an open vision (the bigger/the more visionary/the more unique - the better) for our childrens inheritence. Let’s don’t blow it by not thinking or thinking so small. This is the opportunity to think big, real big, 20 billions dollars worth of big.
Sub Area Plan for East Chicago:
The Indiana Harbor Ship Canal (The greatest geological feature on the southern shores of Lake Michigan.
Near-term Projects as Identified by the Marquette Plan (next 3-5 yrs)
Catalytic Projects for East Chicago:
#3 Industrial Bridge and Beachfront Park
- Construct new vehicular bridge that connects Cline Avenue to Ispat Inland and former ISG properties to the north.
-Assess feasibility of re-using existing ISG Bridge for public lakefront access
-Develop new public parkland on Land transferred from former ISG including an existing beach and lakefront frontage.
#4 Jeorse Park Improvements
- Relocate casino employee parking to alternative lot to improve public access to existing park
- Improve public amenities at Jeorse Park, including trails, landscaping and support facilities
- Link park to Gary casino at Buffington Harbor
B. Whiting/ EC Lakefront
- Explore feasibility of relocating existing BP water purification facilities to a consolidated site south of railroad tracks.
- Prepare master plan and development guidelines that integrates Whilhala Park, Whiting Park, reclaimed BP water purification property, ISG beachfront and Marktown “Heritage Park”
E. Canalway Master Plan
-Explore the feasibility of realigning elevated sections of Cline avenue to connect with proposed new industrial access bridges to Ispat Inland Steel and former ISG property. This effort should study the impacts to lowering the roadway to a more suitable height that maintains grade separation over active railroad tracks while fitting better into the surrounding community and demolishing unneeded sections east of the shipping canal to create additional community development areas.
- Prepare a community Master Plan for the proposed Canalway neighborhood to determine the most appropriate land use mix for existing and reclaimed parcels and to calculate economic benefits, including tax revenue and job creation.
NOTE:The Marquette Plan represents Billions of re-investment dollars in our Lakefront, and East Chicago missed the deadlines for funding projects in 2006. A matter of fact no one in the administration even knew what opportunities the Marquette Plan represented for the City nor what deadlines where set. Let me speak loudly. The next deadline is in December for projects in 2007. I have yet to hear of any plans coming from the city besides a short bike path on the lakefront. With such lack of vision, let me offer you some ideas. To come>>>>
The Question is what is the Marquette Plan?
- What are the benefits?
- What are the opportunity cost (cost/benefit analysis) ?
- Why should East Chicago move forward with this Plan?
- Why are City Leader so reluctant to adopt the Plan or at least the values set out in the Plan?
Located on the Southern Shores of Lake Michigan, this blog is a place to organize the prevailing issues here in Northwest Indiana - just a few I-beams from downtown Chicago and contemporaneous with ???
Many of the initial posts will lack much depth as I begin to put things down and then push them around.
East Chicago continues to set design standards through Public Corruption, Crime, Poverty, Brownfields, Blast Furnaces, Oil Refineries and a general lack for quality of life.
How do we repair such damaged land, water, air, image, and lives when city leaders are not economically rational to recognize the imperative to improve the quality of life in East Chicago?