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City council approves $11.2 million in tax payer funds for River District Revitalization

ELKHART, Ind. -- More than $11 million dollars will go toward the massive River District Revitalization Project after city council voted to appropriate the funds.

The entire 5-year plan will cost about $250 million dollars and is designed to turn Elkhart into a destination for residents, tourists, companies, and more.

The appropriation of the funds comes after the finance committee recommended the city council to vote on it.

The ordinance passed, but it did get one vote against.

A vote of 7 for, and 1 against at Monday’s city council meeting is appropriating $11.2 million dollars toward the River District Revitalization Project.

The only no vote came from Council Member Dwight Fish.

However, members of the public like Julie Hankins say Fish isn’t alone in opposing the funds.

She says Fish brought up many of the concerns she has, too.

“They keep talking about, ‘Oh, we want to become more than RVs,’” said Hankins. “So, if our RV [industry] hits, nobody’s going to go to an aquatic center, nobody’s going to go to a hotel and spend money.”

The $11.2 million dollars is coming out of the city’s general fund, which Council Member Brian Thomas says will go to infrastructure in the River District.

“The roads, the curves, laying the sewers and infrastructure and the wiring all underground,” said Thomas. “A large portion of this money will go to that, to help continue that effort.”

Most of the council members fully support the $250 million dollar Mixed Use Project that will turn the River District into a destination with parks, restaurants, hotels, and more.

The $11.2 million dollars is just part of the big picture.

“It sounds like a lot of money, and it is,” said Council Member Thomas. “But it’s part of plans that have excruciatingly, painstakingly gone over.”

Residents who spoke to ABC 57 News off camera have mixed feelings about the appropriation of these funds.

Some say more money being invested into the city is always a positive, which encourages more businesses to come to downtown Elkhart.

Other feel the money could have been used to fund more services for kids and teenagers.

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