Roundtable Recap: Tuesday, August 29

Aaron Perri presented an overview of the proposed nearly $50 million 5-year plan for MYSB Parks & Trails, the biggest investment for the parks in the city’s history.

Thanks to several special guests and neighborhood leaders who attended August’s Neighborhood Roundtable, where South Bend neighborhood leaders meet quarterly to discuss issues and share ideas. Here are a few highlights from Tuesday, August 29.

My South Bend Parks & Trails

Aaron Perri, Executive Director of South Bend’s Venues, Parks and Arts, presented an overview of the proposed nearly $50 million 5-year plan for MYSB Parks & Trails, the biggest investment for the parks in the city’s history. The proposed revitalization plan, according to SBVPA’s website, could have “significant impact on the perception of South Bend for community members and visitors alike,” providing residents with “greater economic growth, sense of place, health & wellness and sustainability.”

Perri reported on some work already completed, including catching up on deferred maintenance issues, and other projects in various stages of completion. One project currently underway is in Kelly Park on Howard Street, an initiative championed by students in NRC’s own Engaging Youth, Engaging Neighborhoods program.

How projects are selected

The plan is the culmination of over a decade of work, which included many opportunities for community residents to engage in the process and provide feedback. The proposed projects, dotted all around the community, are evaluated on individual merits, not location. Projects are ranked using six different indices: equity, ecology, neighborhood, economic impact, recreation, and safety.

Using the Trust for Public Land Park Access map, they are also able to identify specific areas where access to park space is limited and will be paying special attention to those areas.  According to the land trust, optimal access to park space would be a 10-minute walk or one-half mile distance for all residents.

For more information, visit mysbparksandtrails.com

You can see how the projects rated on each of those indices and the status for each program by visiting the very informative and interactive website, mysbparksandtrails.com – and you can still provide some feedback.  Answers to frequently asked questions, such as what is happening with the Leeper Park duck pond are also found there.

INVANTI seeks entrepreneurial solutions to neighborhood problems

Other guests welcomed at Tuesday’s roundtable included two representatives from the City’s office of Innovation and Technology and Maria Gibbs from INVANTI, a new organization in the city attempting to pair problems in our community with an entrepreneur interested in creating innovative solutions to solve them.  INVANTI is currently focused on issues surrounding economic inclusion.  They each came to listen to what neighborhood leaders had to say about the problems most affecting their neighborhoods.

Among the problems discussed was the growing opiod addiction particularly among the very poor and undereducated who see few opportunities for themselves.  Most of the discussion, however, centered around concerns about affordable housing and gentrification. There seems to be an overstock of housing valued at $80,000 or less and interested buyers and potential homeowners can’t find a lender to give them a mortgage for properties under $100,000.

A couple of neighbors expressed concern over increased development in high-end housing which is increasing property taxes in their neighborhoods, also leading to gentrification concerns.  They stressed the need for mixed income neighborhoods and for finding ways to avoid displacing current neighbors to make room for new residents.  Two representatives from southeast side neighborhoods suggested that the City should help market their neighborhoods as perfect places for affordable starter homes so they can start seeing an increase in home ownership.  Of course, this would also necessitate lenders willing to create mortgages in the $30-80,000 range.

Announcements

The Roundtable ended with these announcements:

  • The Southeast Organized Area Residents (SOAR) is hosting their second annual getting to know your neighbors event at Southeast Park on Saturday, September 16, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.  At noon they will dedicate the new art works in the park and at 2:00 longtime residents will be recognized. Free hotdogs , and hamburgers, chips and cookies.

  • On September 5, the Robinson Community Learning Center will hold its annual back-to-school picnic in the parking lot. Watch the Robinson Community Learning Center’s website, http://rclc.nd.edu for more information.

The next roundtable is scheduled for November 30th and our guest will be Mayor Buttigieg.  The roundtable is comprised of South Bend neighbors who have demonstrated engagement and leadership in their neighborhoods. If you are interested in joining or starting an association in your neighborhood, visit NRC’s website, http://www.nrc4neighborhoods.org/