WILLIAM NANGLE: Gary shows signs of progress under new mayor

2013-08-18T00:00:00Z WILLIAM NANGLE: Gary shows signs of progress under new mayorBy William Nangle nwitimes.com
August 18, 2013 12:00 am  • 

So much has been written about crime in Gary.

While I understand the need to focus on a legitimate problem, it is a shame because the good in Gary is being overlooked.

I took a ride through Gary last weekend. I was pleased to see the $28 million investment in Marquette Park is paying off. Families with lots of kids were enjoying a beautiful day along the lake. New playground equipment was getting a workout from kids being kids and having lots of fun.

Then, too, there are the teens who recently took paintbrush in hand to paint over graffiti along Broadway in the downtown.

The effort to clean up neighborhood parks is also noticeable. A farmers market in the Miller section of Gary has brought new life to the city.

Or look at the plan being pursued to upgrade the Miller section’s downtown. The Miller Bakery Cafe, long a Northwest Indiana favorite, has reopened.

This renewed spirit can be found elsewhere in the city. Indiana University Northwest Chancellor Bill Lowe is helping lead the effort to further develop a “university park” in the Glen Park area.

And so we all can look critically at Gary. The weeds, abandoned buildings, malfunctioning stoplights and so on.

But the bottom line is that progress is being made in restoring greatness to a great city.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson came into office with the promise of changing Gary for the better.

Some suggest she is failing. I can’t agree.

Hers is a task suited to a Superwoman. You can’t judge her by what is left for doing. Instead, look at what she has done.

First, she brought a new era of professionalism to city government. She hired qualified individuals to oversee city departments.

Within 90 days of taking office, Mayor Karen – as I call her – got an agreement that had been pursued for years with the railroads to advance development at the Gary-Chicago Airport.

I have even seen the mayor take to a neighborhood basketball court and dunk a few basketballs with the kids.

No, she hasn’t accomplished all she would have liked to have done in her first 18 months in office. She gets frustrated, too.

But the promise of a better Gary keeps her motivated and keeps her focused on achieving the positive even if it is in small steps.

Yes, Gary gets lots of attention because of crime there, but that isn’t the sum of the city.

Take time to look at the positives, and you will see the promise of a brighter tomorrow is slowly but surely coming into focus.

William Nangle is executive editor of The Times. He can be reached at The Times, 601 45th St., Munster, IN 46321 or at bill.nangle@nwi.com.

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