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Hammond Indiana is On the Move!

lakeshore chamber tom mcdermott hammond indiana 004To an overwhelming crowd of over 300 people Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. spoke to the audience at the Dynasty Banquet Hall on Thursday, January 28th hosted by the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. The entire talk was about the future plans for Hammond and most of the topics are in the “entertainment” arena, including the Festival of the Lakes, a new 165th Sports Complex, Dowling Park (Sports), Riverside park (restaurants and hotels), Walmart (Shops and restaurants) and Wolf Lake expansions (a green space for recreation).

Mayor McDermott, who has been mayor now for twelve years, is the longest serving mayor in Hammond’s history and recently won a fourth term. “We would like to thank the mayor for his vision that has turned Hammond into a great place to live and work in Northwest Indiana,” said Dave Ryan, director of Lakeshore Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. The mayor is known for giving impromptu speeches with no pre-planned approach. Director Dave Ryan chose the topics the Chamber would like to hear thru questions.

Before going into lengthy discussion the Mayor announced the First Inaugural 219 Day to be celebrated at the Hammond Civic Center on SaturdayFebruary 17th, 2018 that will included breweries, live music, and local restaurants to celebrate the entire Northwest Indiana Region. 219 Day is a brain storm of the local Region Rat Rants, that has gained popularity on Twitter, and the city of Hammond hopes to create a 219Day as a recurring event.

He also announced two Acts that have been confirmed for Festival of the Lakes coming this July. Those two acts are classic rocker George Thorogood and the hip hop band Ludacris.
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The mayor began the luncheon by speaking about the new Walmart project, which has now grown to include 35 acres on the farthest northern end of Hammond. The new Walmart is doing quite well, and draws people from South Chicago, in addition to lots of folks from Robertsdale,Whiting and Illinois,” he stated. There are plans for many new stores, restaurants and strip malls in the area for future expansions.

Disscussion then continued onto the Wolf Lake Park Development. When the mayor first took office, over twelve years ago, the city designated the area north of 129th Street to be a green space for recreational use. The Regional Development Authority granted Hammond a $34 million grant to help with the Wolf Lake project. “The RDA has been good to Hammond,” he stated. Over the years, Hammond has acquired properties needed to turn around the Wolf Lake area. Currently there’s the new Pavilion, the new splash pad, walking paths, and biking paths with more plans in the future.

Next on the agenda was the fact that the city of Hammond is looking to move City Hall to Downtown Hammond. The mayor feels like this will make a lot of sense and help out the Downtown Hammond’s economic development. However, he is leaving the final decision up to the City Council “There’s a lot of financials that have to be looked at before this decision becomes final.” The mayor continued to explain that the current City Hall is going to need a lot of repairs, repairs that are going to cost money as well. The Hammond City Council will have a choice as to whether to spend $4 million on the Current City Hall, or to spend 10 million on a new building downtown. “It might be that we do this move over a period of time, like moving into the first floor one year and following up later on with a move into the second floor, and so forth. The first floor is ready to move in now,” he continued. “City Hall is a traffic generator,” McDermott continued, “the council is looking at this closely, asking the right questions and will make the responsible decision.”

Also discussed was the expansion of use of the stellar Dowling Park Baseball fields. Dowling park has baseball, softball, and soccer fields, that were completed in March 2015 and hosted the Peregrine’s 2015 baseball and softball home seasons. It also includes complex seating, a center building with restrooms, locker rooms, a training room, and storage, along with tennis courts, parking lot and that was completed in the Fall 2015. Currently being utilized for only the Purdue Calumet College games, the mayor has arranged for expanded use of this facility. After several meetings and negotiations, he has arranged for the ball park will be used by Hammond Schools, Bishop Noll schools, Clark High School, and HAST Charter School during the times that Purdue Calumet does not have games. “This is a great opportunity for our youth to experience a more professional park and will draw bigger crowds to their games,” the mayor said.
The mayor is also excited about plans for a 165th St. Sports Complex, located at the old and empty Wall Mart location on 165th Street. While this project is still in the planning stages, this is the project that the mayor is really excited about. Plans are in the works to tear down the building and build a news sports complex using the existing foundation. “We would like to see 6 indoor basketball courts and two indoor soccer fields,” he said. “This will be one of the biggest indoor facilities in Northern Indiana and will bring all kinds of visitors to the area to eat in restaurants and stay in local hotels,” he continued.

And last but not least the discussion changed to talk about Riverside Park expansions. This is a large area just waiting for development on the corner of Kennedy Ave and 80/94. Owned by the city of Hammond, this area currently houses the Buffalo Wild wings. There is currently a new hotel – the Hampton Inn, which is under construction and there are several offers in the wings – including another hotel, a brewery and a three story office complex. This area has great visibility from 80-94 and has been waiting for the economy to catch up with demand.
Everything was real positive until the topic South Shore expansion project came up. There was a lengthy discussion about whether this was going to help Hammond or take away from Hammond’s vitality and future. “I don’t see why we should spend 34million dollars that might take people and business away from Hammond,” he stated.

The HUB of Innovation was also discussed. The Hub was just opened up in the Fall of 2015 and is an incubation center for business and education alike. The audiences learned how this facility is being used as a training center for local interns, HAST students, and Purdue students to further their education in various areas especially technology. “There’s 3-d printers, a broadcasting studio and a production studio that gives students great experience and skills,” he described.

The College Bound Scholarship Program has been a great success which is guaranteed to continue for a least ten more years. The program has seen 5,320 students move through the program and continue their education since it began in 2006 and encourages home owners to stay in Hammond and is an incentive for families to move into Hammond. Recipients do have live in Hammond from 6th grade to the Senior year in order to qualify for this program. This program is one of a kind in the entire United States!

In conclusion the mayor stated that he has great people on staff, all of which live in Hammond and are very proud of their community and will go above and beyond to do what is necessary for success. Mayor Mcdermott loves his job, loves Hammond and puts Hammond first above all else.

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Sue

Sue Baxter

Susie Young Baxter, CEO, has published PanoramaNOW Magazine for 31 years. Her hobbies are Camping, Boating, Hiking, Nature, Gardening and Outdoor Activities. She is an Artist, Graphic Designer, an Avid Seamstress, Dabbles in Homemade Crafts and Landscaping. Since her Father was a Health Teacher, she also likes homeopathic Health Solutions. Since blogging started over 10 years ago, PanoramaNow has been added to Newsbreak – a national news affiliate.

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About The Author

Sue Baxter

Susie Young Baxter, CEO, has published PanoramaNOW Magazine for 31 years. Her hobbies are Camping, Boating, Hiking, Nature, Gardening and Outdoor Activities. She is an Artist, Graphic Designer, an Avid Seamstress, Dabbles in Homemade Crafts and Landscaping. Since her Father was a Health Teacher, she also likes homeopathic Health Solutions. Since blogging started over 10 years ago, PanoramaNow has been added to Newsbreak - a national news affiliate.