Illiana Yacht Club

Finally made the hike around the Indiana side of Wolf Lake today, starting from the trailhead off 129th Street, near the Indiana Toll Road. The loop is 5.5 miles and the first stretch took me past a place with a great Region history, one I didn’t fully appreciate during annual visits as a child during the 1980s.

Escaping the sound of jackhammers tearing into Interstate we were soon enough on a boardwalk over the water. Ahead of us, the Illiana Yacht Club. Or as we simply called it “The Yacht Club.”

Region people have the tendency to reduce place names to a simple definite article plus as terse a descriptor as possible. US Steel is The Mills. The Indiana Dunes National Park is The Dunes. Southlake Mall is The Mall. Therefore the Illiana Yacht Club is The Yacht Club.

This likely creates a notion of the place far fancier than fact. In fact, my wife pictured a young me mingling amongst men in ascots and sailor hats. Cut off jean shorts and tank tops with a beer can in hand was more the style here. The setting was transmission towers, trailers, and a rutted road from 112th Street that my old man dutifully told us was a dumping ground for dead bodies. I never ventured much to that end of the property.

No doubt this place formed my awe at the industrial vistas of the Calumet Region and the uncomfortable relationship between landscape and nature. The entire journey from Gary to this northwestern-most corner of Northwest Indiana brought the contrast to the forefront.

The Chicago Tribune ran a history in 2002, and more details are at the Illiana Yacht Club’s website. Dave Novak, who married my Aunt Sandi, recalled: “Ahhhhhh, the friendly confines, 1st came by that place when I was about 10, on a bike, with my cousin Ed. Didn’t know how special it would be.”

And I don’t suppose I did either at 10.

Below are a series of snapshots, many made by my grandfather Frank Roorda, from 1979-1987.

The Novak and Roorda families.

This set dates from autumn 1981, wherein I make my introduction.

Above: with my grandma Minnie. Below: chasing my cousin Amanda.My grandpa was keen enough to capture some of the flora along the road in.

Below, October 1986.

As I was the only boy in my generation my choices of playmates was limited to adults more interested in sailing and drinking beer or my sister and female cousins. Here we play some sort of fort game.

September 1987. My old man pushed my cousin Lauren a little too hard on the swings, sending her flying. They soon made up.


Reinvest In Gary – Arts/Culture + Parks Engagements

Reinvest In… Gary

Phase One engagements
Arts/Culture and Parks committees
prepared by: Sam Love


Jun 16 – Mural unveiling, Gary Public Library, 75 persons
Jun 16 – Gary Gospel Fest, Gateway Park, 20 persons
Jun 16 – Multi-committee meeting at Steel City Academy, 25 persons
Jun 20 – Youth Services Bureau, Glen Ryan Park, 4 persons
Jun 24 – Miller Beach Farmers Market, 10 persons
Jun 27 – Youth Services Bureau, Borman Square Park, 21 persons
Jul 01 – Miller Beach Farmers Market, 10 persons
Jul 11 – Youth Services Bureau, Brunswick Park, 25 persons
Jul 12 – Youth Services Bureau, St Johns Lutheran, 10 persons
Jul 18 – Youth Services Bureau, Reed Park, 15 persons
Jul 25 – Youth Services Bureau, Tolleston Park, 12 persons
Sep 07 – Gary Homeschoolers Group, Douglas Center, 17 persons
Sep 08 – Aetna Manor block party, Aetna, 10 persons
Sep 11 – West Gary Quality of Life meetings, Brunswick Park, 25 persons
Sep 13 – West Gary Quality of Life meeting, St Johns UCC, 10 persons
Sep 15 – Steel City Academy, 20 persons
Sep 16 – Miller Beach Farmers Market, 12 persons
Sep 20 – LiveArts Studio, 6 persons
Oct 13 – West Gary Quality of Life meeting – Lighthouse Charter School, 10 persons
Oct 27 – Gary Green Link trail hike, 16 persons

Reinvest In Gary Plan – Arts and Culture, Phase I Report

Arts/Culture Committee Report
Prepared by Samuel Love, committee chair
15 November 2018

TOPIC: Arts and Culture


Gary is a creative city with many creative people living and visiting here. There exists a great diversity of interests and talents. Yet we are not fully conscious of our cultural history and some tension exists around perceptions of ‘outsourcing’ arts opportunities at the expense of local artists. The closing of Emerson Visual and Performing Arts School and cuts to the public school system are a matter of enormous concern. Another frequently stated concern was lack of communication and disjointed/insufficient promotion of events. Respondents most certainly see a role for the city in hosting their own arts/culture events, promoting school and local arts/culture events, and generally helping local artists gain greater exposure.


Gary has a long and distinct cultural history, and the past few years have seen a tremendous array of activity from groups like LiveArts Studio, Calumet Artist Residency, Decay Devils, Paint Gary, Square One Gallery, ArtHouse, the IUN Arts and Design program, Painted Board Studio, Lake Effect, Open House Gary, West Side High School and Theatre, Gary Historical and Cultural Society, Miller Beach Arts and Culture District, and other groups as well as individual working artists. These and other efforts have transformed the cityscape, especially in downtown and Miller. Ecological conservation, urban farming, and Green Urbanism projects add another dimension. Survey results show a citizenry highly interested and engaged with the arts, in the most broad, creative sense.


Artists need multiple revenue streams, the city must support and sustain an environment for that possibility. (Meeting places, inexpensive restaurants, promotion of local arts, good roads and infrastructure.)

Most artists expressed their desire for independence, autonomy, and flexibility. But many expressed the need for help with permits, navigating bureaucracy, networking, and exposure.

Most frequently mentioned ways the city could support art: host events (block parties, festivals, showcases); bring greater attention to Gary artists, help them generate more exposure, show us off with mentions and postings on social media.

“Centralization” was a key idea that was expressed in different ways. This could be a central place for residents and guests to learn about upcoming events, an arts district, museum, or center where people could be guaranteed to meet/see/experience artists and their art.

Neighborhoods are key. Gary has distinct neighborhoods. The city can support exposure and better communication between communities.

Murals in downtown and Miller are very popular with young people and are a source of pride. Older residents have mixed opinions, especially with concerns about ‘outsourcing’ arts jobs at the expense to local artists or aesthetic concerns.

Allow the youth to lead the way. Listen to young people. “The kids are ‘up’ on what is good and their ideas are worth the ear.”

Perhaps the most frequently mentioned theme was supporting arts by supporting the schools, especially the public schools, and teachers.

Reinvest In Gary Plan – Parks, Phase I Report

Parks Committee Report
Prepared by Samuel Love, committee chair
15 November 2018

TOPIC: Parks


Gary has 57 city parks but not enough staff or resources to maintain the majority of them. “Dirty” “depressing” “unsafe” were frequently mentioned terms. Conditions vary from park to park, but in general basketball courts featured broken boards and rims, were surrounded by weeds, and had cracked surfaces. A frequent complaint was about the lack of open swimming pools and the dangerous conditions caused by the unused pools. Litter was common at most of the parks. Recent park renovations have yielded mixed results, some successful (Marquette Park) and some not (Reed Park was frequently criticized). In some cases residents are tending to the parks themselves. Privatization of some parks features has been considered.


Renovation and continuing improvements have made Marquette Park more accessible and attractive. Partnerships with the Student Conservation Association have gotten trees planted in unused park areas at no cost to the department or city. Partnerships with public and private conservation groups has led to ecological improvement at Brunswick Park. Ecological value of the parks acknowledged by leadership and many park users, tho residents near parks have concerns about safety, overgrown lots, aesthetics. Partnerships with arts groups has developed slowly, but has resulted in increased offerings to summer youth service programs. A National League of Cities program, “No Child Left Inside” provides additional support towards creating greenspaces within a 10 minute walk for all residents.


Respondents want parks that are safe, attractive, serve multiple uses and users, and appeal to multiple age groups.

Exercise, sports, and playgrounds were the most popular activities, but respondents also appreciated parks as a place for quiet, reflective activities, or for their ecological value.

There is a need for some ecological training for the parks maintenance crew. In the case of Reed Park, workers were unsure what was a native plant and what was a ‘weed’, resulting in an unkempt park.

Continuing partnerships with ecological groups (SCA, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Field Museum, Ecorealm). Find areas for tree planting but take care to preserve open space for play. Engage the community in this process.

Build relationships with local artists, streamline internal communication to make it easier for artists to use parks and pavilions for workshops and programs.

The Parks Department is conducting its own surveys and planning process. They have been extremely helpful to me during the Magic City planing process. Parks leadership is active, aware, involved, and possesses innovative ideas for change.

Gary Parks Survey
Magic City Comprehensive Redevelopment Plan 2018
out of 35 respondents
How often do you visit your neighborhood park?
1. Everyday 1.6%
2. Almost everyday 1.6%
3. A few times a week 20%
4. Once a week 11.4%
5. Rarely 37.1%
6. Never 20%

If you visit your neighborhood park, how do you get there?
1. Walk 45.7%
2. Bicycle 20%
3. Bus 0%
4. Car 45.7%

What are your favorite park activities (circle all that apply)
1. Art 28.%
2. Exercising 45.7%
3. Festivals/Parties 42.8%
4. Gardening 5.7%
5. Hiking 31.4%
6. Nature 34.2%
7. Playground 57.1%
8. Relaxing/Sitting 34.2%
9. Sports/Athletics 60%
10. Swimming 48.5%

Gary Magic City Plan – Arts and Culture survey results

The Arts and Culture Committee has reached our first 100 (and four) surveys! Still one more question to process and then a better presentation, but here’s the data.

updated: 6:43am // 4 Sept 2018

1 “Select one that best describes you”
Full Time Gary Resident 66
Part Time Gary Resident 16
Non-resident/lives in NW Indiana 22
Non-resident/lives outside NW Indiana 3

2 “How would you describe your interest in the arts? Please circle one:”
I love the arts and enjoy doing them 53
I love the arts but just enjoy observing 25
Casually interested in the arts 22
Not interested in the arts 4

3 – Which terms best describe you? Circle all that apply.
Art/Design Student 25
Collector 16
Curator 2
Dancer 23
Enthusiast 28
Musician 32
Painter 17
Patron 15
Photographer 17
Poet 9
Writer 25
Teacher 3
Actor 2

Singer, Singer w/ Chorus, Event Planner, Basketball, Promoter, Mentor, Film/Media, Me, Creator, Library Board Member, Extreme Hobbiest, Tech, Sports 1

4 – What are your favorite types of art? Circle all that apply.

Architecture 32
Comic/Illustration 26
Dance 44
Fabric/Textiles 17
Film 46
Graphic Design 29
Literature 25
Music 78
Painting 42
Printmaking 11
Sculpture 22
Theatre/Performance 38

Papercraft, Off the Cuff Writing, Mixed Media, Storytelling, Drama, Anime, Puppetry 1

5 In The Last Year Have You

Attended An Art Show 32
Attended An Arts Workshop 26
Attended A Concert 40
Attended A Dance Performance 32
Attended A Play 37
Attended A School-Related Event 27
Attended An Arts/Culture Event In Gary 27
Attended An Arts/Culture Event In NWI 18
Attended An Arts/Culture Event In Chicago 25
Read A Poem 45
Written A Poem 30
Written A Story 29
Written A Song 26
Painted, Drawn, Or Sketched Something 34
Performed Music 26
Danced 25



Calumet Lead Crisis Archive

Aggregating local and national news coverage of the lead crisis in the Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago, Indiana.

December 2016

November 2016

October 2016

September 2016

August 2016