Before a packed auditorium, South Bend Mayor Steve Luecke delivered a State of the City speech about progress and promises made good. “In South Bend we can make dreams come true,” Luecke promised the crowd.
To achieve the dreams he's referring to the city's mayor of a decade has much work to do. “They're going to work on the abandoned houses, which is a big concern of all the residents right now,” Cindy Deleon recalled of Luecke’s speech. The Mayor said, “There are opportunities available to reclaim these properties including rehab loans, tax abatement, incentives and first-time home buyer assistance.”
Another challenge will be keeping homicides down. This January South Bend saw five. “At the end of 2006 we had recorded 10 murders in South Bend,” Luecke explained. “This is the fewest we've recorded since 1985.”
South Bend is sweeping abandoned industrial buildings to the ground. To date the city has demolished 3.5 million square feet of those buildings. “We undertook the demolition and soil remediation of the former Studebaker Stamping Plant,” Luecke pointed out.
Also a top priority in 2007, finding the funds to build a regional training center for law enforcement, EMS and firefighters. “The mayor talked about our new proposed training facility,” boasted Battalion Chief Mark Nowicki. “Being part of the South Bend Fire Department we're all excited about that.”
South Bend saved and is in the process of renovating a cultural landmark. “The Natatorium over on West Washington Street. We had a lot of concerns about what would happen to that building,” Andrew Brown admitted. “It's part of the black culture in South Bend.”
South Bend is a city of developments, from new retail at Erskine Village and Erskine Commons to new housing in the Northeast Neighborhood. “I'm excited by all the arts and culture that's happening and all of the downtown residential promise,” Mary Beth Saunders said. “That's very heartening to me.”
With a beautifully renovated civic theater setting the stage for his future plans, Mayor Steve Luecke is expected to perform big. Time will tell if 2007 earns him another standing ovation.