(La Porte, IN) - Much has been accomplished but there’s more work to do for making La Porte the place to be. That’s was the main theme of Mayor Tom Dermody during his State of the City speech Thursday night at the Civic Auditorium.
“We’re going to continue to move this community forward. Develop. Shake things up. I’m just excited to be partners with all of you to make sure it happens,” he said.
Construction and plans to develop more new housing for all income levels along with creating jobs since taking over as mayor in 2020 was part of the information he cited as the path for La Porte to become a destination.
Dermody’s goal is raising the city’s stagnant population of about 22,000 to 30,000 by 2030. The new housing includes The Banks, featuring close to 200 recently completed resort type apartments, and Whispering Meadows, a subdivision with dozens of more homes being built.
There’s also Maple Commons at 701 Maple Avenue. The former crime plagued 50 unit downtown apartment building underwent an extensive remodeling and reopened under new ownership early this year.
“There been not one police or fire call at that building,” he said.
Dermody said construction could happen next year at Beechwood Lakes, a development on paper where condos, townhomes and single family residences are planned on 55 acres next to Beechwood Golf Course.
He reported progress in the effort to have affordable homes built on the site of the former Tibma Bakery cleared in 2020 on Woodward Street and an undeveloped parcel on 18th Street near Kesling Middle School.
Dermody also said efforts are ongoing in their attempt to annex the 39 North Conservancy District, which is also part of his growth strategy. The district, near the Indiana Toll, has witnessed considerable industrial and residential growth since forming two decades ago, but now has a problem with maintaining consistent water pressure. Dermody said the city is offering to pay for the expensive repairs in exchange for permission to annex.
Among the other gains this year toward population growth are access to high speed internet everywhere in the city. That was made possible from the laying of additional fiber through a public-private partnership and $15 million investment by provider Surf Internet, he said.
His administration has also worked to improve quality of life to help draw more businesses and residents. Dermody said he expects the city to receive “Quiet Zone” designation from the federal government next year to keep freight trains from blowing their whistles as they approach crossings.
He also noted close to 4,000 pot holes were fixed and over 3,000 code violations were issued this year. In addition, Dermody said more than 60-percent of the streets have received new pavement since 2016.
Other achievements he cited were in areas like job creation and upgrading the local workforce.
Toward the end of his 45 minute presentation, Dermody emphasized a need to construct a truck route around the downtown. He believes more people will come downtown with less heavy trucks rumbling through. There’s been considerable resistance to the idea from residents close to the proposed thoroughfare and the La Porte County Commissioners.
“These aren’t easy decisions but they are the decisions that have to be made for the future of our community,” he said.