Mayor Blair Milo sums up 2014, offers glimpses into 2015

The former Woolworth's building at 618 Lincolnway will be razed in 2015 to make way for a city plaza. (Google Earth image)

The former Woolworth’s building at 618 Lincolnway will be razed in 2015 to make way for a downtown plaza. (Google Earth image)

EDITOR’S NOTE: LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo issued these words of reflection on 2014 and a look ahead at 2015.  

Milo

Milo

As we wrap up another year, it’s commonplace to review and celebrate the accomplishments and momentous occasions of the previous year.  The City of LaPorte has much to celebrate as 2014 comes to a close, but a major contributor toward our successes is our insistence not to just sit back and congratulate ourselves on a job well done, but instead to challenge ourselves to ask, ”What’s next?”

Over the past three years we have focused on building the most conducive climate for economic development growth, providing for sustainable infrastructure needs and fostering a community dedication toward positive lifestyle choices. We’ve worked hard to become a community that believes in ourselves, sets goals and successfully achieves them. Hard work was required with some major hurdles to overcome after many setbacks of not just the national recession, but the results of property tax collection delays. Yet we did what is hard in order to achieve what is great because that is who our community team is and what we do. As we enter into 2015, LaPorteans are entering into an exciting time as the fruits of our labor are allowing us to begin to pivot from a crisis-management mode into one where we can start to dream and use the confidence of successful crisis management to propel us toward achieving newer, bolder dreams.

City government is never going to be flush with cash, nor should it be, and there are certainly still major hurdles ahead in the way of infrastructure maintenance costs. I’m confident, though, that our community and state officials are up to the task of working together to create solutions as we concurrently build a community that attracts current residents to want to stay and new residents to want to join us.

The New Porte Landing development area along Pine Lake Avenue. (Google Earth image)

The New Porte Landing development area along Pine Lake Avenue. (Google Earth image)

Continuing the momentum of success that has been home-grown over 2014, here are just a few of the projects that we can look forward to building upon in 2015:

  • New Porte Landing and Thomas Rose Industrial Park: Preliminary Engineering (PE) design is continuing with a plan to complete by the beginning of February. The Redevelopment Commission is working to proceed with bond purchases before spring so that water, sewer, storm water, road and other utility infrastructure will begin construction in the Spring of 2015. These are HUGE steps forward in both of these key development areas of the community.
  • Downtown: The Redevelopment Commission has contracted the demolition of 618 Lincolnway (better known to some as the old Woolworth’s building) with the intent to establish a Downtown Plaza.  The plaza is intended to serve as a draw for more residents to visit and utilize the downtown especially taking advantage of the adjacent Farmer’s Market, downtown movie nights and many other festivals in the spring through summer months. On Jefferson Avenue the construction of the Community Garden will be completed in order for Spring planting and growing to take place.
  • Workforce Development: The LaPorte Community School Corporation, City of LaPorte, Greater LaPorte Chamber of Commerce and Greater LaPorte Economic Development Corporation (GLEDC) are collaborating to help directly connect local businesses and industries with our students and showcase what career opportunities are available and, more, importantly provide guidance in how to gain the skillsets in order to be successful. Ivy Tech will open a LaPorte site in the Thomas Rose Industrial Park to begin teaching courses for acquiring the following certifications: Certified Production Technician (CPT), Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and specialized CNC machining.
  • Transportation: Upon the successful purchase of buses, targeted for Jan 2015, a Transit Triangle Route with stops in LaPorte, Michigan City and Purdue North Central will commence operations.
  • Public Safety: Both Fire and Police Departments will hire in order to return staffing levels back to full manpower levels. The return to full staffing will allow the Police Department to better organize for power shifts, increased community policing engagement as well as heighten Metro Unit participation. Increased manpower levels in the Fire Department will greatly reduce the levels of overtime payment required and contribute toward better balancing workload requirements.
  • Substance Abuse Mitigation: Support of the LaPorte County Drug Free Partnership, the LaPorte County Problem Solving Court, the LaPorte Community Schools Drug Free Task Force, and members of the rehabilitation community will continue. Outstanding rehabilitation services provided by organizations like Worthy Women Recovery and the Swanson Center will be complemented by the addition of Frontline Foundation’s outpatient rehabilitation center across from the Courthouse.
  • Roads and Sidewalks: With the accumulation of funds collected in 2014, the City of LaPorte will receive a greater return on their investment by putting funds toward both sidewalk and road maintenance projects (street paving).  Another multi-year goal is the establishment of a Pavement Management System that will better survey and prioritize paving projects and budgets for long-term maintenance plans.

These are just a handful of the exhilarating projects to come in 2015 and beyond. As we celebrate with our community partners in the outstanding trends of growth and success — such as Alcoa Howmet’s addition of a second plant and 330 new jobs, Jaeger Unitek’s relocation and growth of over 62 new jobs, and Plastics Packaging’s relocation to LaPorte and addition of over 19 new jobs — we can build on our confidence to not only continue but grow this trend that has led us to a 3% unemployment rate. I look forward to continuing to lead our community team into a thrilling 2015!  I thank you for an incredible job well done this year, Team LaPorte. Happy New Year and I can’t wait to keep building on what’s next!

— Mayor Blair Milo

3 Responses to “Mayor Blair Milo sums up 2014, offers glimpses into 2015”

  1. ILUVLP

    Jan 03. 2015

    Its great to see improvements finally happening in LaPorte. The downtown used to be a wonderful place. I will miss the old Woolworth’s, but at least the location will be put to good use. Perhaps we could get more public parking lots in the future to help ease the tension of trying to find a spot to park along lincolnway. Also, a local flea market would be a great idea I think. Perhaps at the fairgrounds, out by cummings lodge, or fox park? It would bring in tourist revenue for the county, the city and local merchants. Just a thought.
    Keep up the great work blair!

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  2. BK

    Jan 04. 2015

    I do not understand why the city wants to tear down another building. LaPorte has lost to many downtown buildings in the past year and cannot afford to lose another one. There are other locations that would make a better spot and save the city money. The money spent on razing the building could be put to better use. Maybe repairing the facades of the downtown buildings or offering lease incentives to attract more downtown businesses. What the downton needs is buildings with shops and businesses, not parks and plazas. The city owns the woolworth building and could easily refit it and offer low lease options to local business owners who could make use of the space.

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  3. Barb

    Feb 26. 2015

    I don’t see why we need a plaza downtown when there`s nothing down there anymore. I would think they could use the building for something more constructive. As for the town you need to look around at all the bad houses and buildings and do something about that. Anyone coming into town from the east end sure would not want to live here. That side of town looks disgusting.. Maybe we should try and clean up LaPorte and its drug problem before worrying about a plaza. I’ve lived here a lot of years and I don’t see it getting any better. The drug problem is just completely out of hand. I think getting the drugs out of this town would be the main concern and to protect our young children from this or any other dangerous activity.

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