April has been an exciting month. Oftentimes friends and family ask me: "Why do you still stick around East Chicago? That place is run down and full of crime and corruption.”
I sit back, listen to them tell me what they think about East Chicago, and then I grin. I grin because I know what’s about to happen. I grin because I have seen change taking place.
I grin because we have been working hard to fix the problems of the past. I grin because we love a good challenge and I grin because we are starting to see real progress. I see the projects, plans and the direction our city is headed in and I am proud of it.
I have witnessed our deficit shrink from $15 million to zero. We are totally independent from gaming revenue.
And why did it happen? It happened because there is a good administration in place. There is an honest and transparent government with a vision for the future. Yes, it was hard to get to where we are today, but East Chicago is emerging from the ashes. Our city has already hit rock bottom and now the only way to go is UP.
Here is what’s happening.
Several streets will see major infrastructure improvements this year, including sewer, water, curbs and asphalt. The streets selected were the ones in most need of repair.
A total reconstruction of Main Street will begin soon. Main Street is part of our Downtown North Harbor Plan which is going full steam ahead. New retail developments along Main and Broadway are coming.
New high speed fiber is being run throughout the city for current and future technology. Our lakefront will see a $17 million Phase One improvement in the coming months.
The majority of our parks will benefit from a $2 million investment for new shelters and playground equipment, new grills, new benches, two new pavilions, and two outdoor gyms.
Many families use our parks for gatherings, reunions or just to spend time with each other. This is a quality of life investment in our parks.
We have seen a 30-percent reduction in crime, including Shot Spotter Technology and a STOP Team in place fighting crime.
We have a new company bringing 800 new jobs to our city and city employees will see their first raise in wages in years.
We are currently working on an artistically infused downtown square along Main Street, a place where families can enjoy movies, music and a farmers market. The possibilities are endless.
I could go on and on about how many major improvements are headed our way. So I ask myself, why do I choose to stay in East Chicago? The answer is simple.
Our job is not done yet. We don’t run away from problems and abandon our city. We stand and fight shoulder to shoulder to make where we live a better place. We are not quitters, we stand together for our children and their children. We are “A City of Hope and Progress.”