The fishermen of Gary, Indiana, need your help. Over the years, as the city declined and then casinos moved in, they’ve lost shoreline access to Lake Michigan.
Silas Sconiers has been fighting for years to regain that access, contacting Gary’s mayors, as well as officials at U.S. Fish and Wildlife and, most recently, the National Park Service (NPS).
“The city of Gary has 22 miles of shoreline, with piers and wharfs and a shuttered power plant,” he says. “We use to enjoy fishing all along the lake front. But one by one, due to plant closures and politics, we no longer have access.
“Gary is the only city on the entire Great Lakes in the United States and Canada without a public access fishing spot!”
Political barriers especially anger Sconiers, who believes both incompetence and corruption have led to this situation.
“Our city leaders have not exercised any due diligence regarding our riparian rights to access the piers and wharves, which they have control over but lack the competency to carry out the task at hand,” he adds.
“They seem to lack the understanding of their duties and what it all encompasses and they do not know anything about quasi-public facilities and have no business entering into negotiations with Fortune 500 companies.”
But while he has made no headway with city officials, Sconiers has learned that the NPS provides financial assistance to Gary, and it there that he hopes to make progress.
Regretfully, he also is playing the “race card,” which, at first, seems a strange tactic, since both the general population of Gary and its city officials are predominantly African American. But Sconiers points out that “we are being denied the right to fish in Lake Michigan like all other races are enjoying.”
To help Gary’s anglers regain access to Lake Michigan, send your e-mail of support to NPS at firstname.lastname@example.org, with a copy also to the Department of Justice at email@example.com. In the subject line, put this: “No Equal Opportunity to Fish in Lake Michigan in Gary, Indiana.”
Sconiers can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And check out this story --- Where Work Disappears and Dreams Die --- to see what it’s like to live in Gary these days.