McDermott says city poised for great future

2014-01-29T19:45:00Z 2014-01-29T23:28:49Z McDermott says city poised for great futureMatt Mikus matt.mikus@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com
January 29, 2014 7:45 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. told business leaders at the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday that the city is positioned for great opportunity in the future.

The mayor discussed future plans, like relocating the City Hall downtown and redesigning Sheffield Avenue as a more scenic route between 129th Street and Calumet Avenue.

"It's easy to dream, and it's great to put it down on paper," he said, "but the hard part is getting the money to fund it."

He supports continued funding for the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. The annual $10 million in state funding is scheduled to end in 2015.

McDermott also talked about the relocation of a Super Walmart Center to the Cabela's property, which brought in $2.25 million for the city. 

The mayor also tied the strength of the city to Purdue University Calumet's growth. 

The partnership between Hammond and the college includes a planned athletics facility, building new dorm facilities, and transitioning from a transitional campus to a full college. Radio station WJOB plans to relocate to the new Commercialization Center planned for 7116 Indianapolis Blvd.

He also expects the future sports programs from the college to become a staple in the community.

"Twenty years from now, you're going to have people going to Purdue Calumet games all the time," McDermott said.

The Horseshoe Casino is another benefit to the city, but he warned about over-reliance to the gaming industry in the future. 

"Every time I see Mayor Rahm Emanuel," McDermott said, "he mentions how much he wants those casino revenues."

While he hopes the casino remains a strong business, he said he's looking for other revenue sources for projects funded from gaming revenues.

McDermott added his criticism of the Indiana structure of government, saying that city mayors have very little creative options for revenue because the government bodies function on an out-of-date system of government.

He mentioned an idea to add a dollar tax on fireworks sold in Hammond, which could generate revenue for the city's fire department. But the state doesn't allow that kind of local control.

"But we don't have the ability to do that," he said, "because our government system is based on the 1840s. Why doesn't Indiana allow us to do anything?"

The mayor also talked about his support for charter schools, which he believes encourages competition and choice for public education, and his efforts on public outreach.

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