One of the biggest problems plaguing Gary over the years has been that of physical appearance. A backlog of garbage and other debris in front of abandoned houses, alleys and in illegal dump sites exacerbates the matter in this cash-strapped city coping with the long-term impact of population shift and ever diminishing resources.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has been incorporating some creative techniques to tackle the problem, bolstering her staff of 20 general services workers — who must cover 430 miles of city streets — with the aid of Kimbrough Center work-release inmates serving on cleanup crews.
But cleaning up the city of Gary — and keeping it clean — is an uphill climb even with these innovative measures, and the mayor is calling upon individuals and organizations to volunteer their time to help. Civic groups and anyone else from the region looking to bolster region pride should jump at the chance to contribute to this important call to action.
Most people living in the region know municipal budgets are strapped to deal with even some of the essential local government functions. Nowhere else is this more true than in Gary.
The city's general services crew of 20 is responsible for tasks ranging from removal of this mounting refuse to fixing potholes and removing downed trees. The office also is responsible for snow removal, a duty that could be kicking into high gear soon. The net result is a city finding it very hard to keep up with mounting debris — a problem made worse by the incidence of abandoned buildings.
The city launched an "Adopt-a-Park" program in May that also can be applied to adopting blocks or lots. People or organizations pledge to clean up locations or sections of the city — and keep them clean — through this program. Volunteering for this important program gives help to a city in need, bolsters personal and community pride and gives organizations a platform upon which to shine and show their true public service mettle.
While volunteers within the city of Gary are most aggressively being sought, people and organizations located in region communities fortunate enough to not be faced with this mountain of a problem also should consider pitching in. Reaching out to help over the imaginary lines of municipal and county borders would serve as a meaningful New Year's resolution.
Call the city at (219) 886-7099 to take the first step. An all-too common attitude exists in the region that certain problems are too far gone to fix. Volunteerism can disprove that notion while helping to solve a major problem.