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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
this is huge for the region. and before anyone jumps down my throat for posting this here, remember Chicago proper's biggest neighbor (in terms of both population and border) is Hammond. much longer than Evanston's Chicago border, and 84,000 people.


Governor signs bill at Gary/Chicago Airport

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority becomes effective July 1



This story ran on nwitimes.com on Thursday, May 12, 2005 12:50 AM CDT





Times Staff Report

Huzzahs, back-slapping and handshaking on Wednesday filled the lobby of the Gary/Chicago Airport as Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the bill creating the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority at the only place Daniels considered signing it, he said.

"I'm signing a lot of important bills these days, but if I could only sign one it would be this one," Daniels told the crowd of elected officials, lawmakers and regional business people gathered at the airport.

NIRDA will manage expansions at the Gary/Chicago Airport, regional rail and bus transportation projects and facilities as well as shoreline and economic development capital projects.

Almost as soon as the bill was passed, controversy erupted when Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. announced he would appoint himself to the board.

Daniels said it's not so important who serves on the board or who does the appointing but rather how the board conducts itself. He could think of worse things than having mayors serve on the NIRDA board, Daniels said.

"It's important the decisions the new authority makes are wise, based on solid business practices, the process is open and transparent and they use the highest ethical standards," the governor said.

A seven-member board will govern the activities of the authority. Representation includes one person each from Lake and Porter counties appointed by the council and commission of both counties; one representative each from the cities of Gary, East Chicago and Hammond; and two representatives appointed by the governor. One of those appointees would serve as chairman for at least the first seven years of the authority, and the other would be an individual recommended by the cities of Portage and Valparaiso in Porter County.

The state will contribute at least $5 million and up to $10 million in 2006 and 2007. Additional state money could be committed once a comprehensive strategic plan is developed and approved by the director of the Office of Management and Budget and reviewed by the Legislature's Budget Committee. The cities of East Chicago, Gary and Hammond as well as Lake and Porter counties each would be required to contribute at least $3.5 million annually to NIRDA.

A bipartisan group of Porter and Lake county legislators led by Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary; Sen. Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake; Rep. Chet Dobis, D-Merrillville; and Rep. Ralph Ayres, R-Chesterton, negotiated NIRDA with the governor's office.

Rogers called the bill "a grand slam home run."

"The airport was on first, the railroads were on second, buses were on third and the governor came up to the plate and hit the home run," Rogers said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
funding and technical issues

Draft 4600 of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority
Composition of NIRDA board (seven members)
Two appointed by the governor, including one who would chair the board for at least seven years and one on the joint recommendation of the mayors of Portage and Valparaiso. One appointed by each of the mayors of the three largest cities -- Gary, Hammond and East Chicago. One appointed by each county, selected jointly by the county council and commissioners. Five votes are needed for any actions by the board, and many actions must include the vote of the governor's representative.

Planned projects
The authority would have the power to issue bonds, grant money to projects and condemn land. The board would choose the projects by judging proposals it receives.
Present projects include:
* Expansion of the Gary/Chicago International Airport, which is projected to need $11 million in state and local money for the first round.
* Commuter rail spurs of the South Shore from Chicago to Lowell and Valparaiso, expected to cost $25 million to $35 million per year to build and run.
* The Regional Transportation Authority would only be in charge of a regional bus service, expected to cost at least $4 million per year.
* Unidentified Lake Michigan shoreline projects as part of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky's Marquette plan to recapture the lakefront from industrial users.
* Other unidentified economic development projects.

Funding forecast
Funding would come from the following sources:
* Gaming money recipients. Gary, Hammond, East Chicago and Lake County would pay $3.5 million each for a total of $14 million.
* Porter County would be required to pay $3.5 million from its 0.25 percent income tax or other revenues other than property taxes.
* The Indiana Finance Transportation Authority, which acts as the owner and financial manager of the Indiana Toll Road, would pay $5 million to $10 million from its reserves for two years. After a review in two years, the authority would continue the payments if all other parties' obligations are met.
* A 1-cent food and beverage tax in Lake County, if adopted by the county council, is expected to raise about $6.5 million. A similar optional tax in Porter County would raise about $1.5 million.
* The bill no longer includes a minimum services fee of $500 for taxpayers who don't pay property taxes
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ok....no comments on the creation of a multi-county suburban Chicago authority with tax powers.....whose goals include creating 2 NEW Commuter Rail lines to downtown Chicago.

follow NIRDA's progress at the following

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=216695

I guess Northwest Indiana is not of interest to the Chicago forumers......

First Rockford...and now Hammond.....soon Beverly and Albany Park won't make "the cut".....

whaddeva.
 

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Unidentified Lake Michigan shoreline projects as part of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky's Marquette plan to recapture the lakefront from industrial users.
While I definitely like the idea of getting some coordinated backing for the rail extensions and Gary/Chicago Airport, this really caught my eye. God bless them, though, that will be a monumental task.
 

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It's actually been happening for over ten years. The Chicago press is largely populated by north shore folks (with the great exception of Mike Jacobsen who had a place in Beverly Shores).

They are (innocently) ignorant of Chicago's true dimensions.......

That's why this HUGE story got ZILCH coverage in the city.
 

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^I'm 100% with you. I'm a huge fan of this new NIRDA, and I would love to see an expansion of Gary/Chicago airport as well as an extension of commuter rail to Gary. But it's not just our fellow forumers, I also think Chicago and the Chicago region as a whole likes to ignore Gary and the south suburbs in general. It's rather stupid--I think improving business and connections to the south 'burbs and Gary will help counterbalance the excessive growth in the NW side, particularly around O'Hare, thus allowing downtown Chicago to comfortably remain the balancing point of power within the region.

**** Peotone, and Go Gary/Southeast burbs!

BTW, I haven't heard any opinions on the pending merger between NIPC and CATS, which I think is just as important as anything--I started a thread about it..
 
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