(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody vowed to be just as aggressive during his next term in trying to get the city where it needs to be during his annual State of the City speech.
During his half-hour presentation Thursday night, Dermody largely touched upon what he cited as achievements this year, in areas like new housing construction, infrastructure upgrades, code enforcement, and quality of life.
Dermody, elected to a second term in a landslide on November 7th, also promised to not let up on the gas pedal to keep narrowing a wide gap on what needs addressing.
“We’ve accomplished a lot but we are not done. I believe we have restored hope and confidence in what La Porte can be and if we all are relentless we will succeed. Together we are La Porte proud,” he said.
Dermody noted that the accomplishments of his administration this year included over five miles of new sidewalks, separating stormwater and sewer lines on I Street, filling 5,600 potholes compared to 3,800 in 2022, along with additional new housing construction at all price ranges to draw more residents.
Dermody referred to a study showing that just 20 percent of current homes in the city were built after 1980.
“We need a minimum of 900 for sale market-rate housing units and at least 750 rental housing units. We have work to do but we are making progress,” he said.
Among the new housing construction scheduled to begin in 2024 is a development called Beechwood Lakes, consisting of 100 or more high-quality homes surrounding the municipally owned Beechwood Golf Course.
Another 28 housing units will be constructed soon by Steiner Homes on 18th Street.
He also revealed that work to convert a former Coca-Cola bottling plant on Rumely Street into 16 housing units for people transitioning from homelessness is scheduled to begin in May.
The industrial and commercial successes this year cited by Dermody included another spec building under construction at the Thomas Rose Industrial Park, as well as the openings of Biggby Coffee, Pizzeria Uno, and a restaurant overlooking Pine Lake called The Drift.
Dermody brought up other highlights this year, including access throughout the city to even higher speed internet through a partnership with provider Surf Internet in addition to hiring more police officers and taking actions like cracking down on drug dealers.
“We will continue to make drug traffickers in our community uncomfortable and unwelcome,” he reassured.
Dermody said 3,500 citations were written this year for code violations, which reflects his ongoing commitment to improving the appearance of shabby-looking homes and other structures.
He also praised code enforcement and the police for working together to shut down the former La Porte Pantry convenience store at 102 Lincolnway, describing the business as a longtime “crime hot spot” before shutting its doors several months ago.
“We will not look the other way,” he said.
Dermody also gave high marks to the city’s annual dumpster program, which is free to the public for discarding unwanted items like old mattresses and furniture.
“We have dumped almost two million pounds of trash this year,” he said.
After the speech, La Porte County Councilman Randy Novak praised Dermody for the speed at which positive things are happening in the city.
He said other mayors have tried, but fallen short of the pace of change that is needed.
“When he talks La Porte proud, there’s no better champion for that. He really, really talks the talk and walks the walk. He’s got things going. He puts LaPorte first in everything,” he said.
The speech, given at the La Porte Civic Auditorium, was attended by roughly 200 people.