I suggested not long ago that revitalizing Gary could be done, in spite of everything. Well, it appears I’m not the only one who thinks so.
Gary was selected as one of seven U.S. cities to receive aid from the National Main Street Center. The Center, which focuses on historic districts of communities, will assist all seven cities in developing effective strategies for revitalization.
This is just a start, but it is certainly good news. It’s especially good to hear after all the bad news of the past year, such as the violence the city’s seen in past months and the uncertainties of the local steel industry.
But—and let me stress how much I hate being cynical—the language of the Center describing fixing up historical downtowns can’t help but make me think of the “g-word,” a word and subject that’s become heated in recent years.
You know, “gentrification.”
I’m not saying new businesses and people coming into a community are bad things. However, I think any plans to improve a community should help the people already in it, rather than price them out of their homes and force them to relocate without much change in their fortunes.
Gary is a long way off from facing this issue, no doubt. After seeing it play out in big cities, though, should this be the beginning of a long-term revitalization of Gary, we should keep this issue in mind throughout the duration of the process and not forget about the people of the city.
That said, and lest I sound like too much of a cynic, let me reiterate that I think this is a very good thing for the city, and a nice bit of good news right before Christmas.