East Chicago looks to get lakefront improvements back on track

2012-07-28T22:00:00Z 2012-07-31T14:52:04Z East Chicago looks to get lakefront improvements back on trackSteve Zabroski Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
July 28, 2012 10:00 pm  • 

EAST CHICAGO | Stalled plans to increase public access to the city's Lake Michigan shoreline have been revived with the approval of a pair of key partnerships.

East Chicago has lagged behind neighboring Hammond and Whiting in joining the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority initiative to redevelop former industrial areas. The efforts are part of the Marquette Plan, which calls for more green space along the lakefront.

East Chicago officials hope to get back on track with an agreement for the use of lakefront property owned by ArcelorMittal and help from Short Elliot Hendrickson, the Munster firm that has helped guide other communities with RDA-related projects.

The 13-year lease of 10 acres near the marina along Aldiss Drive "allows the city to put a comprehensive plan in place for the lakefront area," said Kathy Brown, an economic development consultant hired by the city in January.

Another 10 acres will become available when the city's adjacent old water filtration plant is demolished, said Brown, who worked on the Marquette and Calumet Area land use plans for the RDA before signing on with East Chicago.

The city also will pay $10,000 to SEH for assistance with preparing the necessary paperwork in advance of seeking RDA funding for the lakefront project.

"We've spent a lot of time working with communities to receive RDA funding for projects," Matt Reardon, a principal with SEH, told the Board of Public Works. "We've got a pretty good track record."

Hammond and Whiting have benefited from nearly $75 million in enhancements to their Lake Michigan, Wolf Lake and George Lake shorelines through partnerships with the RDA over the past three years.

Though the approval process for any new projects would have to follow RDA time frames, Reardon said the goal is to get the city's application to the agency "as soon as possible."

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