Rightsizing Itself

“I would like to see Gary flourish again, and I think it eventually will.”


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Transcript for Rightsizing Itself

Well, people are always surprised, you know, when you tell them, you know, you grew up in Gary.  And they say, ‘Really?  You grew up in Gary?’ you know, and lot of times I’d say, ‘Yeah, I lived there when we had great schools, and when there was lots of opportunities, and lots of jobs.’  That’s how I explain it, you know?  I think the brain drain that occurred is part of why it’s not flourishing like it should.  You know, you just graduated with a degree in, you know, city planning, or, you know, and you’ve got an opportunity to work in Chicago, or Indianapolis, or Gary—most people are not gonna pick Gary.  And it’s gonna take awhile for that to change, I mean, because the perception of Gary is not good from people that don’t know Gary.  They just see the crime rates, and the statistics, and the pictures.  So, it may take awhile.

I would like to see Gary flourish again, and I think it eventually will, and I’d like to be part of that, if I can in some way.  My house is still there that I grew up in.  It’s boarded up, so it may not last too long, you know, my old neighborhood is still there, my school is still there, the beach is still there.  Eventually, something will happen there, and if it’s, you know, the city doing something like Detroit is doing and rightsizing itself, or doing something with changing the tax structure to provide some incentives for more industry to move in, or more, factories to move in, or more manufacturing to move in.  There’s a lot of infrastructure there that’s there that’s not being used; a lot of land that’s there that’s not being used, and it’s so close to Chicago, you know, it’s closer than some of the suburbs of Chicago.

Well, in terms of rightsizing, you know, Gary has a lot of area but it doesn’t have the tax base to maintain all of that area and provide services for all that area, The largest taxpayers is the steel mills, but they don’t pay what they used to.  So, cities like Detroit are looking at a similar situation and saying, ‘Let’s just shrink our borders.’  Gary may have to do that.  They may have to de-annex land, or they may have to decide that, ‘We’re gonna let these parts go, and concentrate on other parts.’  So, those are some of the things that Gary’s gonna have to look at in the future if it is to remain a city that can function.  I mean, it’s not growing now.  It’s shrinking.  It’s shriveling on the vine, or it has been.  You know, the new mayor’s doing what she can, but it comes down to money in a lot of cases, and the city doesn’t have it.