LAKE STATION | The city is moving ahead with acquisition of property now occupied by an abandoned mobile home park, Mayor Keith Soderquist said.
"It's like a war zone," Soderquist said. "It's a terrible area as we make the transition. We're in limbo."
The most recent step toward acquiring the Riverside Mobile Home Park property was taken Thursday at the City Council meeting.
Indiana Department of Homeland Security officials conducted a public hearing to receive input from residents on the acquisition of the property and its future use by the city as a green space.
The property, 3601 E. 29th Ave., is in an area hard hit by flooding on at least five occasions in recent years, including the September 2008 flood.
The mobile home park, a fenced area marked by vandalized and even burned-out trailers, has no occupants but remains under private ownership, Soderquist said.
Property owner Michael Andoniades, of Troy, Mich., has been cited hundreds of times by city officials.
Andoniades couldn't be reached for comment.
The city is hoping to purchase the property through a $500,000 grant received in 2008 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We don't own it yet, but we have a mutual agreement with the owner to purchase it through FEMA," Soderquist said.
Indiana Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Janet Crider said the city can use the grant to purchase the land, demolish abandoned trailers and turn the property into recreational green space.
"That's because the trailer park is located in a repetitive flooding area," she said.
Soderquist said even though the city received the grant several years ago it couldn't go forward until Lake County had finalized its own Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Although city officials have suggested turning the acquired land into a fishing park, that's only one possibility.
"We won't decide the use until we receive input from residents. Turning the area, a portion of which backs into Deep River, into a fishing park was just one option," Soderquist said.
He said city officials are also working at obtaining additional funds for Lake Station's portion of the grant match as well as anticipated additional funding for the property cleanup.