Mayor gives speech on the state of the city

(La Porte, IN) – Much has been accomplished, but there is more work to be done to make La Porte the place to be. That was Mayor Tom Dermody’s main theme during his 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.

Construction and plans to develop more new housing for all income levels along with job creation since he took office 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 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 of more houses under construction.

There is also Maple Commons at 701 Maple Avenue. The crime-ridden 50-unit former downtown apartment building underwent an extensive remodel and reopened under new owners 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.

Reported progress on the effort to build affordable housing on the site of the former Tibma Bakery cleared in 2020 on Woodward Street and an undeveloped parcel at 18the Street near Kesling High School.

Dermody also said efforts are underway in his bid to annex North Conservancy District 39, which is also part of his growth strategy. The district, near the Indiana Turnpike, has seen considerable industrial and residential growth since it was formed two decades ago, but now it has a problem maintaining constant water pressure. Dermody said the city is offering to pay for the expensive repairs in exchange for the annexation permit.

Among the other gains this year toward population growth is high-speed Internet access throughout the city. That was made possible by laying additional fiber through a public-private partnership and a $15 million investment by provider Surf Internet, he said.

His administration has also worked to improve the quality of life to help attract more businesses and residents. Dermody said he expects the city to receive “Quiet Zone” designation from the federal government next year to prevent freight trains from blowing their whistles as they approach crossings.

He also noted that nearly 4,000 potholes have been fixed and more than 3,000 code violations issued this year. Additionally, Dermody said that more than 60 percent of the streets have received new pavement since 2016.

Other achievements he cited were in areas such as job creation and upgrading of the local workforce.

Towards the end of his 45-minute presentation, Dermody emphasized the need to build a truck route around the center of the city. He believes more people will come downtown with fewer heavy trucks rumbling around. There has been considerable resistance to the idea from residents near the proposed track and La Porte 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.

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