EAST CHICAGO | A group of about 60 residents, business owners and city officials attended a community vision session at the East Chicago Marina on Tuesday to hear and share suggestions for how to develop the Main Street and Broadway Business District in the Harbor area.
Dolores Palma, of HyettPalma, moderated the meeting. Her firm specializes in developing strategies for the economic enhancement of downtown areas and is working with the city under an assistance program called Indiana Downtown that is offered by the state municipal league.
"In your community, we know you have two downtowns, unlike most cities, and your mayor wanted us to focus on the Harbor," Palma said.
Palma asked audience members to say how they would like Main Street and Broadway to look five years from now. They were asked to focus on the area of Main Street from Columbus Drive to Guthrie Street and Broadway from Michigan Avenue to Guthrie Street.
"I want to be able to walk down the street and go into some stores and look around," said lifelong city resident Ranese Osegueda.
She also suggested movie theaters.
"I'm tired of taking my money to Schererville and Merrillville," Osegueda said.
Restaurants, a coffee shop, a live theater, bike trails, a zoo and an aquarium were among other suggestions gathered from the crowd.
Palma said the plan is to look at the wish list of residents, analyze data and come back with answers regarding what types of businesses have a good chance of succeeding in a new downtown area.
Mayor Anthony Copeland addressed the audience and said he wanted the public to be a part of the planning process at the beginning stages of this project.
"I can tell you that, financially, this city is poised to do some great things," Copeland said.