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Submitted by Larry Swanson Studebaker cleanup effort gets a boost Ruling lets city lawsuit against former automaker's insurance proceed

By JEFF PARROTT Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND -- Enter downtown South Bend from the south and you can't help but notice them. The dilapidated eyesores stubbornly sit there. Thousands of tons of weath- ered bricks, rotting wood, crumbling concrete, rusting metal and broken glass. Decades ago they were vibrant, productive -- a source of community pride. Today they waste 140 acres of prime urban land, erode surrounding property values and serve as a constant reminder of the city's once-glorious industrial past. Mayor Stephen Luecke wants his legacy to include toppling the former Studebaker and Oliver Plow Works factory buildings, ridding the land of contamination and successfully marketing it to light industrial and high-tech ventures. From blight and ruins would spring jobs with solid paychecks, the kind that generate taxes, feed families, finance vacations, put kids through college and finance comfortable retirements. But the city's budget is tight. Demolishing the structures could cost $21 mil- lion, money the city is seeking in federal government loans.

It could cost another $20 million to clean up the contamination. Luecke would like to do it all with as few city tax dollars as possible, and he got a little help Tuesday from the Indiana Court of Appeals. The court ruled that the city's lawsuit against the former Studebaker Corp.'s liability insurance companies can proceed in court. The city aims to make the companies pay to clean up pollution left behind when the automaker shut down in 1963.

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THE TOOL BOX Turning Wheels July 1993 Vol.25,No. 7

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