The city of Gary has unveiled the results of a land survey that officials say will help the city move forward with plans for blight elimination and economic development. Volunteers surveyed nearly 60,000 parcels of land. The results show more than 20 percent of the structures in the city are vacant.

February 18, 2015

News Release

GARY, Ind. – After more than 18 months of surveying nearly 60,000 parcels of land, City of Gary officials released findings that will help the city move forward with its plans of blight elimination and economic development. More than 200 volunteers participated in the land survey going out on weekends armed with smartphones collecting data. Each parcel of land was classified as vacant, burned out, abandoned or occupied. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson stated the survey data will help her administration make some important decisions.

“This survey has laid the foundation for our work going forward,” said Freeman-Wilson. “The numbers will help us identify the best areas to invest our demolition dollars and identify where there are opportunities for restoration and growth.”

The city’s Redevelopment Director Joseph Van dyk gave an overview of the findings and encouraged everyone to visit the newly launched website

They were are graded on a scale from A-F. The website allows users to enter a property address and find out its rating.

“This is another example of how we are working to think outside of the box,” said Van dyk. “This type of research is unique for Gary and with the help of our partners, we will be able to tackle our blight problem in a manner that is far more deliberate and logistically sound.”

Carol Brown, representing the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, worked alongside Van dyk in coordinating the survey with the help of U of C graduate students.

“Harris students developed the Gary Parcel Survey after former Mayor Richard Daley and Mayor Freeman-Wilson laid out a big challenge to them early on in the University of Chicago – City of Gary partnership,” said Brown. “Our volunteers included dozens of University of Chicago students and City of Gary staff, Gary residents, high school students from the Gary Youth Services Bureau, local college students, Gary business owners and civic leaders, and of course ‘data geeks.’”

Later today, a diverse group of community representatives who have a vested interested in Gary’s blight elimination will gather at a community educational forum, which represents the formal launch of Gary’s six month technical assistance engagement with the Center for Community Progress, a national leader on solutions for vacancy and blight. The forum will take place from 2:00p.m. – 5:00p.m. at the Genesis Convention Center.

Gary was one of four communities selected nationally by Community Progress to receive support through the spring 2015 Technical Assistance Scholarship Program (TASP). Specifically, Community Progress will assist the City of Gary in the area of data collection and information management (IM), looking at both organizational and departmental IM infrastructure and practices. Representatives will also help identify strategies and solutions for more effective data collection, sharing and analysis as part of a broader, more comprehensive blight prevention strategy.

Source: City of Gary

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