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Indiana officials weigh cleanup options for church project

December 7, 2018
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In this June 30, 2018 photo, the historic City Methodist Church, in Gary, Ind., plagued by human health threats, must be remediated before the city can transform the architectural gem into a European-style ruins garden and tourist attraction, records show. A plan to turn the ruins of a historic Indiana church into a tourist attraction can't move forward until asbestos and other potential health hazards are removed from the property. (Kale Wilk/The Times via AP)

GARY, Ind. (AP) — A plan to turn the ruins of a historic Indiana church into a tourist attraction can’t move forward until asbestos and other potential health hazards are removed from the property.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and Gary Redevelopment Commission are seeking public comment through Jan. 4 on three environmental cleanup proposals for the dilapidated City Methodist Church in Gary, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported .

The proposals each feature a different level of cleanup, ranging from no action at all to asbestos removal.

The Gothic-style church, which was built in the 1920s, closed in 1975 after years of declining membership. Gary officials plan to transform the site into a European-style ruins garden and tourist attraction.

“Through this redevelopment, the site will serve to provide a unique public space in downtown Gary, and promote tourism through adaptive reuse of a historic structure,” the city’s Redevelopment Commission said.

Cleanup will be partially funded with $47,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund.

The Regional Development Authority and the Redevelopment Commission will oversee the cleanup, while the Indiana Brownfields Program and Indiana Finance Authority will provide oversight and technical assistance.

RDA grants manager Jill Huber said officials are working on a project timeline.

The improvements will follow other remediation work in the downtown area, such as the recent renovation of the Gary Public Library and Cultural Center, said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.

“The revitalization of this ruins garden will fit right in,” she said.

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Information from: The Times, http://www.nwitimes.com

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