South Bend neighborhood associations pushed for community-focused 2019 budget

NOW: South Bend neighborhood associations pushed for community-focused 2019 budget

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Homeowners in South Bend said they are happy to see the focus of the $388 million city budget be community building. 

Councilwoman Regina Williams-Preston said neighborhood associations, like the Far Northwest Side Neighborhood Association, worked hard to get the city to play ball. 

“The city was really listening,” Williams-Preston said. “Going downtown, going to meetings, talking to our representatives about what was happening in our neighbors and began telling them about our stories.”

Williams-Preston said the proposed budget is a reflection of neighborhood associations being engaged in their local government. 

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg walked through the 2019 City budget overview on Wednesday. He said people can expect to see spending in quality of life and neighborhoods. 

According to the Mayor’s budget presentation, the city is looking to fund:

-       Substantial TIF investment in neighborhood plans

-       Funding to address vacant and abandoned houses

-       Increased funding for traffic calming

-       A new housing construction initiative and housing repair initiative  

Robert Fultz, who lives on the Far Northwest Side and is a member of the neighborhood association, said the group has been working with the city to get issues like blighted homes, vacant buildings, and declining property values solved. 

“Anybody would like to live in a comfortable community,” he said. “Everyone would like to live in a community what they can be proud of, you know, myself and those who live in Granger.”

Fultz said the group wrote proposals, went to meetings, and even protested the city’s overlooking of the far northwest side. 

“It seems like we’re talking to them, but they’re not listening,” he said. “They’re not hearing us.”

Fultz said the city’s proposed budget brings him hope. The city has not finalized this year’s amount dedicated to neighborhood restoration. 

However, last year, it committed the following to vibrant neighborhoods:

-       $200,000 for Light Up South Bend neighborhood lighting project

-       $600,000 budgeted for Vacant and Abandoned and other Neighborhood Improvement programs

-       $1.5 million for the Curb and Sidewalk Program

-       $1.3 million for new neighborhood development program (new construction and rehab)

Williams-Preston said the Far Northwest Neighborhood Association is a lesson for other neighborhood associations, that are dedicated to seeing their community flourish. She said the city is always looking to hear from the community. 

“Listen, keep your ear to the ground because the city is constantly reaching out and asking for our voices they want to know what we need and what we want,” she said. “Those opportunities are there it just takes the commitment and the time to make sure that you show up.”

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