A visit to Gary can be a sobering experience. All one has to do is ride through the city's neighborhoods to see the hundreds of abandoned buildings.
The sight of a home with a manicured lawn and fresh coat of paint next to a house that has been boarded up and stands among weeds is cause for concern.
The city's demolition coordinator, Cedric Kuykendall, estimates it would take $100 million to demolish and cart away the more than 3,000 abandoned properties in the city.
Then, too, there are abandoned industrial sites that can prove a danger to children living near them.
Cleansing the city of the abandoned structures is a task Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has taken on with a vengeance. The problem is a lack of funds.
Former U .S. Senator Evan Bayh cleared the way while in office for Gary to get millions upon millions of dollars for its abandoned building project only to see the city flub the application sent to federal officials.
Well, there is a new mayor in town, and a new campaign to land federal and/or state funds to get the job done will be sought. U.S. Rep. Peter Visclosky has pledged his support for the request.
In the meantime, the city's residents are being urged to respond by cutting the weeds that surround abandoned properties. Lake County Sheriff John Buncich and Juvenile Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura are assigning offenders to help with the cleanup. Churches in Gary are organizing to help.
There is a new spirit in the city that bodes well for its future. As time passes, fewer and fewer abandoned homes will be seen and that will help emphasize Gary's positives.