October 30, 2015

As detailed in a special Eco Region Report last Saturday, the contractors handling the demolition of the Ambassador Hotel near downtown Gary are not following proper safety procedures; carcinogenic silica dust is coating the neighborhood,  and one resident has taken action. Concerned citizens should contact the Department of Redevelopment, who is overseeing the work of Gary Material Supply, LLC. The Heat, Light, and Water photoclub will be continuing their documentation of the demolition this Saturday at 10a, meet at Borman Square Park pavilion.

An electral contractor based in Gary’s southwestern corner is seeking a zoning change that will allow him to expand his business at 4210 West Ridge Road and add parking for his fleet of six semi-trucks. Area residents are fearful leeching from the trucks will seep into the wells they depend on for water. The area bordered unincorporated Calumet Township and is not connected to Gary’s water system. The Gary Common Council seems sympathetic to the area residents. In a Post-Tribune report Councilwomen Mary Brown (D-3) expressed her uncertainty as to what is being proposed for the site. 5th district councilwoman Linda Barnes-Caldwell investigated the contractor’s claim the trucks would be parked only overnight, not long term, and found the claim lacking. The fleet is current parked 3635 West Ridge Road and according to Barnes-Caldwell, “[i]t looked to me like they never moved.”

A proposed sand mine in unincorporated Calumet Township, Indiana is on hiatus, but local activists urged residents to stay vigilant. They are hoping to raise money to independently test for water contamination. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the US Army Corps of  Engineers intimates the project might be on the table for the next two decades.

A Valparaiso, Indiana family displaced 3 years ago when city utility workers botched a sewer line repair job, contaminating the family’s home with raw sewage, is standing up again to a bullying city government. The family’s plight attracted attention when their son posted a video to social media that gained considerable attention. As part of a good-faith mediation agreement the city demanded the video be removed in return for temporary housing aid. No such aid has come and the video is back online, along with a fundraiser to help the family defray legal costs. I’ll let Nolan tell the rest of the story.

Look what turned up at the Bailey/Chellberg Farm at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore this week:


Three major region news outlets held a pity party for beleagured Pavilion Partners, LLC earlier this week: the Post Tribune, NWI Times, and WBEZ. The NWI Times seemingly halted their asinine #CivilityCounts respectability politics campaign to retweet an immature name-calling tweet from South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority president Speros Batistatos, a man who thinks Jasper County is a part of The Region.CR8_piZVAAASB85.jpg large

Can’t make it to Portage, Indiana’s lovely lakefront park? There’s a webcam for that.

Indiana DNR counted over 6500 sand hill cranes in the vicinity of Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area. Peak roosting is still a few weeks away.

The state of Illinois can now publicly object to the proposed Singleton Quarry project near Lowell, Indiana. The US Environmental Protection Agency will hear from Illinois regarding potential impacts the quarry will have on the downstream Kankakee River in Illinois. The question of whether or not work can continue at the site remains up in the air. Ultimately the decision rests with the US Corps of Army Engineers and Illinois has until mid-December to file an objection.

Hammond, Indiana wants to experiment with thermal remediation to clean the site of the former Do-All Village Cleaners, on the 800 block of Hoffman Street. The site first attracted the attention of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management in 1997 following a spill of dry cleaning chemicals. The business closed in 2012 after 50 years of operation and have contracted EnviroForensics of Indianapolis to remediate the site. According to the NWI Times report “[t]wo homes and a small strip of businesses” were demolished and the contractors hope to install vapor barriers – “essentially a plastic layer placed between the ground and the concrete foundation” according to the report.”

A dry cleaning business in Valparaiso, Indiana remains open during contamination cleanup. Mercury Cleaners, operating at 356 W Lincolnway since 1950, was recently cited by IDEM when PCEs were discovered on nearby property.

Contaminated dirt that turned up at a housing development project in Goshen, Indiana this summer are finally being replaced with clean soil. Additional sampling will occur.

Lake Station, Middlebury, and Valparaiso, Indiana all approved major stormwater improvements for 2016.

The buffalo has returned to the Illinois prairie. Four bulls and 23 cows have a new home at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, near Wilmington, Illinois. They will have 1200 acres to graze in a long-term experiment to improve bird habitat and prairie biodiversity. Experts believe the prairie can handle up to 100 bison; good because many of the arriving cows were pregnant. A day that many thought would never come has arrived.

The emerald ash borer has decimated the region’s ash tree population, but Naperville, Illinois sites a pro-active approach with sparing thousands of ashes within their city limits. The tawny western suburb of Chicago treated nearly 11,000 trees at a cost of $275,000. 630 ash trees were cut this year, considerably fewer than previous years. Meanwhile, quick action and a little anti-authoritarianism has spared the ash in many Chicago northwest side parks.

Waukegan, Illinois is nearing completion of its lakefront development plan.

On the same day they passed a record property tax hike, the Chicago City Council also gave final approval, without any debate, to the controversial lakefront George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Friends of the Parks, who oppose the project on the grounds it violates the city’s open lakefront trust, will attempt to have the courts halt the project on a November 10 hearing.

Joliet, Illinois removed a 70 foot, possibly century-old cottonwood tree.

The Chicago Parks District, Metra, and Canadian National railroad disagree as to who exactly owns a small wooden parcel near the Midway Plaisance. An abandoned homeless camp was discovered there late this spring.

The restoration of Jackson Park, on Chicago’s south side, is turning up some rather interesting junk.

Save the Dunes plans to release an Indiana Dunes Protection Guide for Residents, to help region residents join the struggle against invasive plants. Meanwhile, there’s BP oil leaking in the National Lakeshore (in case anyone already forgot.)

The death of a bear cub at a South Barrington, Illinois fall festival sparked hundreds of angry social media postings wondering why Goebbert Farms must use exotic animals for human entertainment. Many are calling for a boycott.

An albino deer was photographed in Elkhart County, Indiana. The Indiana DNR says they’re not as rare as we might think.

Also in north-central Indiana this week, a dog named Trigger shot his human companion.



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