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Gary, Ind. Mayor Vows To Clear Blighted Neighborhood

Gary's Black Oak district has fallen into blight. (CBS)

Gary’s Black Oak district has fallen into blight. (CBS)

Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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(CBS) — Some are calling it The Land That Time Forgot – a Gary, Ind. neighborhood that looks like Berlin after World War II.

It’s been decaying for decades, and nobody’s done a thing about it, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.

The apocalyptic landscape – what is left of the Black Oak neighborhood — is near the Little Calumet River wetlands in the southwest corner of Gary.

There are dozens of abandoned homes, some of them burned out decades ago. One has been ripped from its foundation and lies on its side.

Nearby is a church where nobody has worshiped for a long time.

“It has gone down over the years, little by little,” the Rev. Clinton Jackson, a neighborhood resident, says.

And along the roads, pockmarked with potholes six inches deep, there has been years of illegal dumping. Despite the warning signs, there are tons of trash and refuse.

“It’s not as good as it could be. It was really beautiful at one time,” resident Michelle Robinson says.

The new Gary administration says it wants a crash program to tear down the wreckage and clean up the garbage. The problem: no money.

“The Black Oak community has felt and has been, quite frankly, historically neglected by city government,” Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says.

The mayor says the city is now trying to determine where and how many other burned-out or abandoned buildings are blighting the city. They’ll be removed one neighborhood at a time, she promises.

The folks in Black Oak hope they’ll be at the top of the list.