New National Guard Facility Planned for Gary Airport

GARY, Ind. -- The state has approved a nearly $1.8 million design and construction-supervision contract for a new National Guard facility at the Gary/Chicago International Airport.

The facility will house an anti-terrorism team and several Blackhawk helicopters specially equipped for medical evacuations. The anti-terrorism team will respond to chemical, biological or other terrorist attacks in the region.

The Indiana attorney general's office approved the design contract last week for the largest portion of the facility, which was awarded to Indianapolis-based CSO Architects, said Joseph Heck, the State Armory Board's contracting officer.

The approval of the contract set a timeline for soliciting bids for the actual construction of the facility by June 2006 and awarding construction contracts by September 2006, Heck said.

The Indiana National Guard has also agreed to lease 24 acres of land from the airport along Lake Michigan at a rate of $1 per year for the next 55 years, Guard officials said.

Gary airport and Guard officials have been holding regular meetings every two weeks to discuss the facility, Heck said.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., said the Guard facility also would complement both the increased use of the airport by commercial airlines and plans to expand the overall facility and its runways through the creation of a new regional development authority.

"You're always looking for that second benefit _ to enhance activity at the airport, create jobs and generate additional moneys that will continue to come in year in and year out," Visclosky said.