Anthony Broadnax wants to redevelop Gary's Emerson neighborhood by creating a livable community. Four civil engineering students from his alma mater in Terre Haute are helping him do so.
Broadnax, President of Broadnax Enterprises, has enlisted a student design team from Rose–Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute to provide a technical evaluation for the effort. As part of their senior design project, students will provide a community planning report supporting the proposed development project highlighting, among other things, its effect on the sewer systems and altering certain traffic patterns in the community.
"The functions of that program are to have them work for a client and produce and provide a full–scale technical report based on a real problem," said Broadnax, who is an adviser for the institute's engineering department. "If I had to pay an engineering consulting firm, and I work for one, so I know, to do this type of evaluation it would cost probably $50,000. They're not professionals but it's going to be close to the same caliber. They're doing very high quality work."
On Saturday the students gathered at 576 Carolina Street, where the now abandoned former headquarters of the Gary Urban Enterprise Association sits.
"I'm trying to get this building as my company headquarters," Broadnax said.
The students were joined by Gary Sanitary District Inspector Lamingo Tomlin, who was popping off manhole covers in the alley to allow the team an inspection. "What they're doing is good for the city of Gary," Tomlin said.
Broadnax, who said he's working on behalf of the city, said the state is encouraging municipalities to separate sanitary sewers from storm sewers.
"One of the things I'm going to have the students do is give me a proposal of what it will cost to put storm sewers in the streets because the sanitary sewers are already in the alleys," he said. The design team is also compiling a traffic study near the U.S. Steel Yard. Broadnax said he has an idea to better facilitate foot traffic from the community, once it's redeveloped, to the stadium without having to cross a busy road.
"This is a new initiative, there are a lot of problems," Broadnax said of his Emerson plans. He estimates it will be a five- to eight–year project.
Broadnax has a vested interested in Emerson because he grew up in the community. He went on to work in the corporate world and was still living in Houston when he attended his Wirt High School reunion at Marquette Park in 2000.
"I was looking at the shoreline of Chicago and thinking about what Gary used to be," he said. "How can we be sitting at the tip of such a magnificent natural resource and not have the city be more positive?"
Broadnax moved back in 2006. He said he has plans for the entire city. His plan is "one community at a time" and he chose Emerson as the first. Broadnax believes the public/private partnership he's doing with the students is the kind of different thinking Gary needs and that he'll continue to bring.
The Rose–Hulman student design team includes Kelli Phillips, 21, of Paris, Ill., who said the project is a big undertaking.
"I just want to help out a community," she said. "You get satisfaction that this is helping a lot of people."
James Ricci, of Gillette, N.J., picked this project because "it's real."
"This is going to impact a lot of people," he said. "This will make measurable impact. This is exactly what civil engineering is – making an impact on people's lives."
Other students involved in the project are Joseph Wright, of Salem, Ore., and Jim Schuler, of Salem, Ind.
"I love this," Wright said. "The opportunity is endless how much we can help."