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City pays $1 million for store, angers some leaders

Controversy is heating up in South Bend as the city prepares to buy land for the new St. Joseph's High School.

The common council voted to buy the nearby Family Dollar store on Monday for more than $1 million.

Mayor Steve Luecke said he is seeing a lot of support for the project.

For people walking in the area, like Wendy Clingan, the issue was not so clear.

“I have mixed feelings, but I think in my heart of hearts I would say that I don’t believe the city should have to pay for the whole thing,” said Clingan.

She thinks the Family Dollar money could be better spent and she is not alone.

"We should be using it to enhance the neighborhoods versus giving information to a private institution,” said Councilman Henry Davis Jr.

Councilman Davis is worried that the city's efforts on projects like the high school will create a divided city.

Divided not just physically by the St. Joseph River, but divided by the city's revitalization efforts on the east side and a lack of similar efforts here on the west-side.

"Sort of like what St. Joe, Michigan, looks like and what Benton Harbor, Michigan, looks like. I don't want to look at that model but that's what South Bend is going towards,” said Davis.

We asked Mayor Luecke what he thought of that.

"We look for opportunities all over the community," said Luecke.

He pointed out that the city paid a similar amount for west-side investments like the Kroc Center. He knows that there are concerns about the city paying for a private school.

"We've looked at this very closely and believe that there is truly a positive public benefit for this investment by the city," said Luecke.

Davis said he plans to fight the plan even though it’s already been approved by the council.

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