By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent September 15, 2014 9:54PM
Hobart YMCA and Cressmoor Arms apartments are located in the west side of Hobart, which the city hopes to get a boost through a Legacy Foundation Neighborhood Spotlight grant. The YMCA would play an integral role in the program. | Karen Caffarini/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 16, 2014 2:02AM
HOBART — City officials are hoping to stimulate the west side with community input and support from the Legacy Foundation.
The city has submitted an application for the foundation’s inaugural Neighborhood Spotlight program, a multiyear program that will provide both funding and assistance in the form of a planner to help create and implement a project designed to spur positive change in a particular neighborhood.
Hobart’s application is one of six submitted to the foundation. Two will be selected at the end of the year.
If the city’s application is approved, it will receive funds to hire a planner to work with a committee comprised of local residents, business owners, community organization representatives and others as well as some quick action items, said Kelly Anoe, of the Legacy Foundation.
The Hobart YMCA would be the convening organization required under the program and its executive director, Dale Polomchak, would serve as team leader in the process.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to really do something for our west side, which is an integral part of our city,” said Councilman John Brezik, who represents the area.
City officials say they have no project in mind; that’s what the committee would determine, adding the city is only one of the stakeholders.
“This program would help a neighborhood help itself,” said Robert Fulton, assistant to the mayor.
“People on the west side of Hobart want something. They’re concerned about safety, abandoned houses, all kinds of concerns,” Fulton said.
Brezik said community input would be needed if the city’s application is approved.
“We need to understand the needs, the wants and the positives of the area,” Brezik said. “Do we need an elderly care center, a preschool? We’ll take the residents’ thoughts.”
Brezik said the area targeted stretches from the city’s western border at Mississippi Street to Wisconsin Street-Lake Park Avenue to the east, south to the Mundell Field area and north to Liverpool Road and 49th Avenue.
He said whatever project is chosen would fit in with the Hobart Marsh Plan, an expansive plan of water and hiking trails on the city’s west side.
Brezik said the logistics of the city’s west side are among the best in Lake County, with Interstate 65 crossing through it and several rail spurs. The Hobart Marsh is a positive from an ecological aspect, he said.
Anoe said the winning applications will be chosen by a selection panel consisting of Lake County leaders based on the strength of the submitted letter, the group that would be involved, and the ability to make an impact and change.
“We’re not just factoring our decision based on socio-economic need. We’re looking at what types of projects they want to do and how they’re balanced out by the needs of the community,” she said.