Illegal dumping on the grounds of the former Tolleston School

Gary initiates taskforce on illegal dumping

Contributed By: The 411 News

IDEM, Gary Police Dept., Lake County Sheriff, and Lake County Prosecutor join forces

In 2023, as his agency was considering issuing enforcement actions and fines to the city of Gary for not cleaning up two of its properties that had become dumping grounds, IDEM Commissioner Brian C. Rockensuess traveled to Gary.

“I visited those sites and other areas in Gary that had open dumps. It quickly dawned on me, the issue was much bigger than just those two properties,” Rockensuess told Tuesday’s press conference at Gary’s City Hall, where Gary Mayor Eddie Melton announced the initiation of the city’s Taskforce on Illegal Dumping.

Instead of fines and enforcement actions from the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management, Commissioner Rockensuess said, “My thought processes changed to Gary needs help.”

That help came from IDEM in the form of a $508,678 grant. The funds will pay for fencing or barriers and the installation of cameras to prevent further dumping at the two sites – the old Bucko Asphalt Plant at 890 Chase and the property at 1000 N. Clark Road.

The 1000 N. Clark Road address is industrial property, where Clark Road zigzags across Industrial Blvd. and nears the lakefront.

The closed Bucko Asphalt Plant, 890 Chase, has become a haven for illegal dumping

The city’s Taskforce on Illegal Dumping will combine the resources of the Gary Police Department, the Lake County Sheriff, and Lake County Prosecutor’s Office.

GPD Deputy Chief Brian Evans highlighted a case of illegal dumping in the Tolleston neighborhood.

Deputy Chief Evans said the Lake County Dispatch Center had received an early morning call on May 7th from a resident reporting a suspicious dump truck on the grounds of the former Tolleston School.

“When GPD Officers responded, they located a suspect with a roll-off dump truck believed to be dumping large trees and debris. Individuals were ordered to load the trees and debris back on the truck. The truck was towed,” Evans said.

A fine was issued, and additional citations and charges are pending in Gary City Court against Hebron resident Kristin Stone, the truck owner.

“Sometimes illegal dumpers work for large companies that are paid to dispose of debris. Instead of doing the proper disposal, they dump it in the city of Gary,” Evans said.

Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez said his department will bring resources and technology.

“We will deploy License Plate Reading cameras to identify vehicles going in and out of the areas of illegal dumping. We will install cameras that will be monitored by our Real Time Operational Center to keep an eye on individuals entering and leaving those areas for potentially doing illegal dumping,” Sheriff Martinez said.

“Our aviation unit will check on those sites. Our jail workforce, inmates on work release will help clean up the city,” Martinez said. “We’re saying enough is enough, we are not going to tolerate it.”

“We’re not playing. We’ll find and prosecute you to the full extent of the law,” said Mayor Melton.

To report illegal dumping, Deputy Chief Evans said, call (219) 660-0000 or (219) 881-1311.

Story Posted:06/05/2024

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