Residents fill South Bend Parks Board's Elbel hearing

The city was all ears Thursday as the fight to save Elbel Park continues.

There was only standing room left as many concerned residents filled South Bend Parks Department’s public board hearing on the park.

More than 50 people came out to encourage the board not to make a sale some asked the board to rethink leasing the property as well.

No action will be taken until after the special committee, many in the community have been calling for, makes a recommendation.

“I think the community was impressive, again there were so many people out representing so many hopes and possibilities,” said Jennifer Vetz, member of Elbel for Everyone.

As the conversation on Elbel rolled on Thursday night at the O’Brien Recreation Center, this time the city was on the listening end.

“It’s clearly been a great interest to many people both in terms of their representation at meetings as well as online and in comments and discussions going on,” said Mark Neal, South Bend Parks Board Member.

Residents time and time again have made it clear they don’t want the public park to go away anytime soon.

“It’s the largest park in the city, so let’s make sure that we do what’s right and make sure that we have a transparent process that people can buy into and participate,” said Jerry Niezgodski, member of Elbel for Everyone.

Many from the Elbel for Everyone group have different opinions on what to do with the resource.

But the city vows to hear them out and work towards a compromise.

“We can all work together I’m sure to come up with a best solution knowing that people are passionate and caring very deeply about what’s going on in South Bend,” said Neal.

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