|Posted on November 23, 2016 at 12:50 AM|
East Chicago residents demand City Hall answers Garland, a .
A group of residents and local activist groups delivered a list of demands to Mayor Anthony Copeland's office Friday afternoon. The mayor did not meet with the group and instead will meet with them Wednesday.
The residents said their health and well being was not a priority for the city and have scarcely heard from city officials. Copeland has lacked visibility in the community since an August forum in the early days of the clean up and relocation processes at the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site, residents said.Arlene Lowe, a resident of a senior home near the superfund site, tells a group of protestors that seniors in her home are testing for high levels of lead and Resident Pamela Berry said the citizens who live in and around the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site want to speak with Copeland about being more transparent and better meet the needs of residents.
"Our demands are not being met. We're not being heard," Berry said. "The citizens are growing very anxious."
From her perspective, Sara Jiminez said the cleanup is not moving fast enough. She said there aren't enough contractors and the money should be there to get the work done quickly.
People throughout the neighborhood have a litany of health concerns and it's not safe for them to remain in their homes while the work is underway, they say.
"This is very emotional for all of us here," Jimenez said. "The mayor really needs to come out and talk to us."
Jimenez said it doesn't appear there's a set direction on how all of the issues around the site and city are going to be solved, and that's why residents went to his office Friday. "We need answers," Jimenez said.peaks to a group of
The Community Strategy Group, made up of residents, demanded the mayor declare a state of emergency for residents at the Superfund site; use the demolition money for the West Calumet Housing Complex to provide relocation services for residents; provide a means for residents to cover their health care costs; give homeowners the ability to relocate and recoup the value of their homes; make support available for senior, disabled and vulnerable residents; and give residents mental health assistance.
Sheilah Garland, of National Nurses United, which has advised residents, questioned the city's desire to get money to demolish the complex but not seek emergency assistance for residents. She said the lack of transparency at all levels of government is stunning.
"This situation is a total disaster that should have been handled very differently a very long time ago," Garland said, in a statement.
"We're asking Mayor Copeland to reassure us that our lives are worthy and that we matter," Berry said.
Berry said Copeland should take time and meet with residents affected by chemical contamination throughout the city and advocate for them. She said the worse thing he could do is simply try to pacify the situation.
"Copeland needs to stand up and be our leader," Berry said.