Hammond mayor credits West Lake project for downtown development in State of the City address
Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. says changing his mind about the West Lake Corridor has opened new opportunities for downtown Hammond.
"I fought that train for the first year we talked about it, and now I acknowledge without that train line and the confidence — I keep on saying this word — the confidence that that brings, then all of a sudden, all of these developers . . . have the confidence that we're going to follow through on our actions," McDermott said during his State of the City address Wednesday.
The mayor touted the residential and commercial developments coming to downtown Hammond, along with new single-family homes and industrial projects in other parts of the city. "You hear people talking about the stampede of people moving from Illinois to Indiana. It's a fact. I mean, we see it all the time in Hammond. Businesses, that's the shocking thing for me," McDermott added.
He said that's great for Hammond, but it raises questions about the health of the Chicago area as a whole.
With all of Hammond's successes, McDermott said its biggest challenge is the lack of a hospital, since the closure of the former St. Margaret's. "First off, we don't own the land. That's complication number one, O.K.? It's owned by the Franciscans, still. So I tell you what I think, that our goal should be to at least have an emergency room at that location. If we could do more than that, that's wonderful," McDermott said.
He said that while he's upset with Franciscan Health's decision, he feels it's part of a nationwide problem.