LAPORTE — Much has been accomplished, but there is more work to be done to make LaPorte “the place to be.”
That was the main theme of Mayor Tom Dermody’s State of the City address Thursday night at the Civic Auditorium.
“We are going to continue to move this community forward. Develop. shake things up I’m excited to be a partner with all of you to make sure it happens,” she said.
Since becoming mayor in 2020, Dermody has focused on job creation and plans to develop new housing for all income levels.
He wants the city to become a destination.
Dermody’s goal is to increase the city’s stagnant population from around 22,000 to 30,000 by 2030.
New housing includes The Banks, which has nearly 200 recently completed resort-style apartments; and Whispering Meadows, a subdivision with dozens more houses under construction.
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There’s also Maple Commons, 701 Maple Ave.
The former crime-ridden 50-unit apartment building in downtown underwent an extensive remodel and reopened under new ownership earlier this year.
“There was not a single police or fire call in that building,” he said.
Dermody said construction could take place as early as next year on Beechwood Lakes, a paper development where condominiums, townhomes and single-family residences are planned on 55 acres next to the Beechwood Golf Course.
He reported progress in the effort to build affordable housing 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 underway to annex 39 North Conservancy District, another part of its growth strategy.
The district near Indiana Toll Road has seen considerable industrial and residential growth since it was formed two decades ago, but has developed a problem maintaining constant water pressure.
Dermody said the city is offering to pay for the expensive repairs in exchange for the annexation permit.
Another advantage this year is high-speed Internet access in all parts of the city. A public-private partnership and a $15 million investment by provider Surf Internet made the additional fiber laying possible, he said.
His administration has also worked to improve the quality of life to help attract more businesses and residents.
Dermody said he hopes the city will receive Quiet Zone designation from the federal government next year to prevent freight trains from blowing their whistles as they approach crossings.
He stressed the need to build a truck route around the city center, saying that more people will come to the center if fewer heavy trucks pass through.
However, there has been considerable resistance to the idea from residents near the proposed roadway and LaPorte County commissioners.
“These are not easy decisions, but they are the decisions that need to be made for the future of our community,” he said.