GARY | A legislative forum to raise local awareness of region issues in the Indiana General Assembly generated discussion about economic development in Gary and a move by Griffith to secede from Calumet Township.
The Saturday forum was hosted by Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who said Senate Bill 585, sponsored in part by by Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, and Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, is really about economic development.
A portion of the measure would allow Gary to create a port at Buffington Harbor, which would be an economic benefit to the city, Freeman-Wilson said.
She said Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, is pushing legislation to create a trauma center in Northwest Indiana — a measure that could fulfill a regional need and create more economic opportunities.
Another discussion Saturday involved attempts by Griffith to divorce itself from Calumet Township. The last six or seven years, Griffith officials have attempted to secede from the township, Calumet Township Trustee Mary Elgin said at the forum.
"If that happened, it would hurt the city of Gary," Elgin said. "They say they pay millions of dollars in taxes and get very little back in return, but that's not true. We've been there for Griffith. When a roof collapsed at an apartment complex, we were there providing immediate service. When they were impacted by the storm a few years ago, we were there."
On Tuesday, the Indiana House of Representatives voted 66-32 to pass House Bill 1585, which sets up a path for Griffith to leave the township.
The legislation now advances to the Senate, where similar House-approved legislation to aid Griffith died in 2011.