(Editor’s note: as part of our RDA Transformations video project, the Regional Development Authority asked area communities what RDA had meant to them. This is a first in a series of community narratives that were provided to us.)
The Hammond Area Lakes Project has transformed the image of the entire city of Hammond. The city that was dominated by large and medium sized industrial facilities has transformed into an area with diverse recreational opportunities, which has opened the door for business, commercial, and residential development. With this new development comes jobs, increased tax base, investment by businesses and homeowners, and a belief that no goal is unachievable.
This new diversity of opportunity, that was previously believed to be beyond reach, is due to the partnership between the Regional Development Authority and the City of Hammond. Utilizing a combined vision that established specific expectations and implemented thru the support, resources, and funding available from the Regional Development Authority, this project has been a success and forms the foundation for future endeavors.
By itself the investment in this area has provided full and part-time jobs – construction as well as staff to manage and service visitors to the new recreational facilities. Expanded recreational opportunity has brought residents and visitors to the lakes to enjoy everything from seeing a Little League baseball game to an outdoor evening concert. Children can enjoy the new splash pad, ride their bike or take a leisurely walk along the new bike and hike trails. Residents and visitors alike visit local restaurants and businesses, which need to employ additional staff to meet the needs of these new explorers of the three lakes.
Vehicle and pedestrian traffic provides exposure and opportunity for development. A current example is the proposed commercial development that will take place between Lake Michigan and Wolf Lake along the 1200-1300 blocks of Indianapolis Boulevard. Two former gasoline service stations combined with the site of a former restaurant will be the basis of a new commercial development and new jobs. Existing vehicle traffic will be supplemented by the extension of the bike and hike trail allowing marina patrons to walk or bike ride to this new development. Current residents will no longer have to use an automobile to travel to that portion of Indianapolis Boulevard making it an attractive business location that would not have been possible without the Regional Development Authority and City of Hammond partnership.
The impact on the residential areas adjacent to the lakes should not be overlooked. A new home has been built on the shore of Wolf Lake at the 119th Street entrance to Forsythe Park. Existing homes assessed valuation has risen and there is a new confidence in the community. Residents realize they now have the recreational amenities, in their own backyards, which formerly could only be enjoyed by traveling to other communities. A sense of pride has developed and that has translated into well-kept homes and yards, and that is the bedrock of a community.
The Regional Development Authority/City of Hammond Partnership is a breath of new life and signifies a sense of “we can do it together!”