The NWI Times EDITORIAL: Michigan City needs Meer’s leadership
By: The NWI Times Editorial Board
If you’ve been to Michigan City lately, you’ve seen the thumbprint of Mayor Ron Meer.
Meer, a Democrat, is opposed by Virginia Martin and Clifford Thatcher Jr. in the Democratic primary on Tuesday.
On the Republican ticket, Robert Lonie and Duane Parry are vying for the chance to run in November. The Times Editorial Board offers no endorsement in that race.
On the Democratic ticket, however, Meer is an easy choice.
Under his leadership, Michigan City is reinventing itself and addressing problems that have lingered for years.
The city’s downtown is undergoing a renaissance, with artist lofts in place and a new downtown plaza under development. A plaza brought dramatic change to downtown Valparaiso, sparking similar interest elsewhere in the Region. The city planner who led Valparaiso’s effort is now in Michigan City, promising to bring more foot traffic to the new park and to downtown businesses.
Washington Park, the city’s jewel on the Lake Michigan shoreline, has seen some needed investments, too. Most visible this year will be the roundabout being developed at the entrance to the park.
With safety in mind, the city has put life rings and surveillance cameras on the pier leading to the iconic lighthouse that draws photographers and other tourists.
A restaurant offering rooftop dining at the park is another draw for Michigan City.
Under Meer’s leadership, the city has made improvements elsewhere, too.
And they’re paying off.
A year ago, Clarence Hulse, executive director of Michigan City Economic Development Corp., shared a map showing nearly $1 billion in tangible development in the city in recent years. Those are projects either in progress or already complete, not promises of future investments.
The map shows that where the city has invested money, private investments have followed. The city is better because of it.
The city is addressing the problem of lead poisoning among its children. Michael Kuss, superintendent of the Michigan City Sanitary District, has led efforts to pinpoint the cause of elevated lead levels — primarily lead paint in aging housing stock — and find grant money to help the city address those homes and those children.
Michigan City is attracting attention, and not just for the double-tracking project that will put the city within comfortable commuting distance for jobs in Chicago. It’s a city on the move, undergoing dramatic improvements in recent years.
Meer offers the kind of leadership the city needs. Voters should entrust him to continue addressing the issues facing the city.