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Gary, Indiana May Allow Unneeded Park Space to Revert to Nature

With a shrinking population, Gary, Indiana is faced with the prospect of having more park space than it knows what to do with.
February 15, 2017, 11am PST | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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Lotzman Katzman

According to city officials, as many as 20 of Gary's 57 city parks may be allowed to revert back to their "natural state." Ed Bierschenk of The Times/ reports that Gary's Mayor and Parks Superintendent have floated the idea of reducing the number of parks maintained by the city in the face of a declining population. The Census shows that Gary's population fell below 80,000 in 2015, down from a high of over 170,000 in the 1960s and '70s.

[Parks Superintendent McKenya Dilworth] said even if some of the parks are allowed to revert to nature, it doesn't mean the land won't be maintained.

Some of the land might be used as wetland mitigation to offset impacts caused by developers. In these cases, developers would provide money to help maintain the green space, Dilworth said. Some of the money then could be combined with grant funds for such projects as removal of invasive species, she said.

The land also can be used as green infrastructure, for example, to help reduce the amount of water going into the city's stormwater system.

A parks plan is currently in development by committees made up of residents from the city's six council districts. Any plans to reduce the number of parks in the city would first need to be discussed with the city council and residents.

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Published on Sunday, February 12, 2017 in
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