Elkhart families wonder when city is going to pay attention to the South Side
ELKHART, Ind.- Collapsed ceilings and boarded up entryways; that's what surrounds families in an Elkhart neighborhood.
Now they say enough is enough, neighbors living on the south side of Elkhart say things like boarded up entry ways, broken glass, torn up ceilings keep people away.
The president of the city council, Brian Dickerson says they are aware of this issue and plan on fixing it.
“The city of Elkhart did, within the last four or five months, acquire a number of properties in that corridor and we are going to be tearing some of those down,” he says.
“It sends a horrible message to half the city and the business investors,” says Elkhart native Jason Moreno.
Moreno explains that along Main Street, directly south of the tracks, code violations are obvious. “Windows smashed, doors that were open windows that were falling in or out brick facades ceilings that were caved in…”
But Dickerson says unfortunately this isn’t isolated in this corridor and the city is already working to fix it.
“There’s a due process we have to follow in order to get those buildings taken down or brought up to code and it also takes hundreds if not millions.”
Moreno argues the city’s priorities are not up to par for the families living in this neighborhood. “They found time to seek investment for high luxury apartments and aquatic centers but they haven’t invested any time or money into this,” he says.
“The city of Elkhart doesn’t go out and say we’re going to build an aquatic center, that’s a private effort, but that doesn’t really play into the code enforcement side of things,” says Dickerson.
Dickerson says the main issue here is with code enforcement and the department’s duties.
“They need to be focusing on things that are risks to public safety,” he says. “Ultimately it’s a leadership problem and what we need is the mayor’s office to lead the charge to get this done.”
Moreno adds he wants his own message to reach those who have the ability to make that change. “…take money we spend as tax payers and use it wisely and start working on this side of town as much as they work on the other side of the tracks.”
Dickerson adds there shouldn't be a barrier between north and south and when they approved the budget for the CDBG, they requested more money to be used to tear down buildings like this one; it just takes time.
ABC57 did reach out to the code enforcement department and mayor's office, but have yet to hear back.