(BY JON SEIDEL)
The hometown of Michael Jackson will again be promised a museum honoring the King of Pop and his famous family today.
When Mayor Rudy Clay and family patriarch Joe Jackson get together at the Genesis Center this morning, it will be to make the third such declaration in two years.
So far, no dirt has turned.
Nevertheless, Joe Jackson and Clay spent Tuesday touting their latest "major announcement." Clay said it has potential to lure 750,000 visitors and $150 million annually to the community, and he said it's won the approval family matriarch Katherine Jackson.
Answering questions for City Hall's public-access television show, Jackson said he wants to bring his son's museum and performing arts center, as well as the money it could generate, to Gary despite pressure to build it in larger, established destination cities.
"We're bringing something back," Jackson said.
City Hall officials kept quiet about the details of today's 11 a.m. news conference, which is open to the public. It's unclear if other members of the Jackson Family will attend. Clay said the public will hear specifics about the site of the museum and the architects and engineers who will build it.
Though Clay and Jackson looked to downtown Gary for the museum most recently, and Small Farms before that, the mayor said it is now likely to be built near Gilroy Stadium and South Gleason Golf Course, close to Broadway and Interstate 80/94.
The land could even be transfered to the Jackson Family Foundation one hour before the news conference, when the Gary Board of Public Works holds its weekly 10 a.m. meeting at City Hall.
Council member Carolyn Rogers, D-4th, said she was one of four council members who had dinner Monday with Jackson and Clay in Merrillville to talk about the project.
Rogers said she was joined by council members Shirley Stanford, D-2nd, Mary Brown, D-3rd, and Kimberly Robinson, D-5th, as well as Jackson Family Foundation President Simon Sahouri.
"We didn't get a lot of specifics," Rogers said.
That seemed to leave Brown skeptical. She said the museum could certainly give a jolt to Gary's dragging economy, if it's built. "In terms of having all the information that I need to say, 'Hey, this will work,' I can't say that at this point," Brown said.
Clay and Jackson dropped by the family's old home in the 2300 block of Jackson Street on Tuesday. A granite monument to Michael Jackson, originally placed at the U.S. Steel Yard, has been moved to the home's front yard and covered.
The mayor said it will be unveiled near the anniversary of Michael Jackson's death later this month.
Joe Jackson, filmed by a documentary crew, ate lunch at The Stadium Buffet and Grill near the minor league baseball stadium.
But first, he answered questions for "Eye on Gary," City Hall's public-access show. There he talked about raising his children in Gary and his hopes for a museum honoring his son.
"I'm here to carry on his legacy, going back to Indiana," Jackson said.