'Look at what opportunities exist': Gary school used as a neighborhood dump looks to get cleaned up
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Only on 2.

It’s hard to see the potential in a place when all you see is trash everywhere. But an abandoned school in Gary, Indiana is being repurposed and neighbors say the change can’t come soon enough.

CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas saw first hand how the garbage keeps piling up: old mattresses, piles of tires, scrap wood.

“It makes me feel bad.”

Willis Bowens said he’s tired of living down the block from what he calls a dumping ground: The old Edison Middle School.

“My kids went to school here and it was a nice public school at that time,” Bowens said.

But that’s not how it is now. Right before our eyes, CBS 2 saw two people dumping a pile of wood on the property. When confronted, they blamed it on someone they were working for in Hammond.

“I don’t know. The guy that I got this sh** from told me to bring it here and dump it.” 

“We do need something in this spot much better than what it is now. It’s nothing but a dump now,” Bowens said

That “something” could be a new headquarters for a trucking firm. A northwest Indiana company called Djuric Trucking bought the property and plans to revitalize it and move in.

The company initially planned to take over two abandoned schools in Gary, but that idea stalled after residents objected last year. Now, the city is reviving the plan but this time it only includes the Edison property.

“You have to take a look at what opportunities exist.”

AJ Bytnar of the Gary mayor’s office is hoping the project will entice more businesses to take over the other abandoned schools that have burdened the city for years. Within a few miles, there are six vacant schools, a symptom of Gary’s steep population decline.

“We’re hoping to have that kind of domino effect with revitalizing this property so we can have continued success and build off it.”

There was a public hearing on the project last week and now it will be considered by the city council. In the past, some residents have objected to the idea of a trucking company in their neighborhood.

“We’re going to keep the truck traffic away from residential streets to ensure there’s not a conflict,” Bytnar said. 

As for Bowens?

“We tired of looking at this.”

He’s ready to say good riddance to the neighborhood dump.

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