MICHIGAN CITY — Mayor Duane Parry announced on Thursday that he’s finalized the structure for a committee that will “review proposed uses” of the city’s $16.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The 10-member entity will consist of nine voting members and one non-voting member.

Members with votes will include three representatives Parry appoints from within his administration, three from the Michigan City Common Council, one from Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, one from the Michigan City Redevelopment Commission, and one from the “Michigan City Chamber of Commerce, representing small business, and non-profit organizations.”

The non-voting member will come from the city Controller’s Office.

Specifically, the representatives from the mayor’s administration will include Parry, Fire Chief Douglas Legault and Police Chief Dion Campbell. Appointed Council members are Bryant Dabney, Angie Nelson-Deuitch and Dalia Zygas.

EDCMC executive director Clarence Hulse, city Planning director Skyler York of the RDC, Horizon Bank CEO Craig Dwight (representing the Chamber of Commerce), and city Controller Yvonne Hoffmaster round out the committee.

“The ARPA Committee will begin meeting to review and prioritize proposed uses of Michigan City’s ARPA funds immediately after the administration and City Council complete a list of proposed uses,” Parry said in a statement.

Nelson-Deuitch has facilitated multiple “public input sessions” over the past few months, inviting local residents, faith leaders, business owners, nonprofit representatives and government officials to participate.

The most recent session was hosted via video conference Wednesday evening.

Don Briggs chimed in to request the city overhaul its public transportation system by extending bus routes farther into the west side and other areas where residents have little to no bus access.

He also asked that benches and shelters be installed at bus stops, and that riders have a digital means of being able to track buses and schedule rides.

Bruce de’Medici, an attorney who recently moved to the city from Chicago, suggested using ARPA funds to invest in water and sewer infrastructure, as opposed to raising taxes at a later date.

He said that to do so would be a “double investment,” as current residents and businesses would not only receive improved water and sewer service without paying additional taxes; but prospective residents and businesses moving to the area as a result of NICTD’s Double Track NWI project will base their decisions on where to live on factors such as infrastructure and education.

Having the infrastructure in place to support the additional volume of people would increase the city’s property tax intake as businesses and individuals choose to settle in Michigan City, he said.

Tina Mahone asked that the city revisit its abandoned efforts to help residents with lead remediation in their homes.

And Councilman Don Przybylinski said he hopes to see the city bring all of its parks into compliance with ADA standards, and create destination parks, especially at Fedder's Alley in Washington Park.

Nelson-Deuitch assured participants in Wednesday’s meeting that their ideas would be added to the list she’s compiled of feedback provided in ARPA meetings to date.

That list can be accessed by the public via request through the city Clerk’s Office.

According to Parry, “The American Rescue Plan is intended to provide direct relief to individuals, families, small businesses and local governments that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
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