Community reacts to South Bend park renovations

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU)- South Bend's riverfront could soon look a lot different. Thursday night park officials unveiled some tangible plans to develop parks along the riverfront.

The details on developing Howard Park and Seitz Park are becoming more specific, some of which include a multi-use ice skate rink and having these spaces be usable all 365 days.

"Giving each park its own identity was important while introducing a cohesive visual design so you know you're on the trail system and you know you're in a park space that's welcoming," said Aaron Perri, Executive Director Venues, Parks and Arts.

Howard Park could soon see a multi-functioning ice rink.

"I thought that it was a cool idea that they could use it as an ice rink that they could use it as a splash pad type thing," said Mishawaka resident John Goeller.

Goeller attended the meeting because he assists with developing parks in Mishawaka.

"If you can incorporate the two, that would be a lot better idea than just doing the one," he said.

Park officials said the old Howard Park Ice Rink was too one-dimensional.

"When I go to a major city I love to go ice skating in the winter," said Downtown South Bend resident Anne Fuchs. "You can do it in New York, you can do it in Chicago, maybe now that's something you could do in the winter around a beautiful Christmas tree in South Bend."

Music will also still be big at Seitz Park, but now you might also get concessions and be able to use restroom facilities.

"I think we've got a plan here that the community is widely supportive of and I look forward to bringing it to fruition," Perri said.

Park officials also plan to expand the width of the river walk.

"You'll see wider river walks so that people can feel comfortable and safe along them," Perri said. "We'll phase in as much of this as possible to keep access to the riverfront as much as possible during construction."

For the most part, community members seem pretty pleased.

"I really appreciate what they're doing and I'm looking forward to taking advantage of it as a resident of downtown," Fuchs said.

"I'm looking forward to it," Downtown South Bend resident Connie Tooley said. "I think they're on the right track."

Developing the parks will cost 10 million dollars. The plans aren't completely finalized yet, but park officials will be sending them to architectural and engineering design over the next six weeks.

They hope to start work this summer.

Another community meeting will take place at at the end of April. A date has yet to be determined.

If you missed tonight's meeting and want to learn more about what could be happening to South Bend parks, here's a link to the website: http://sbvpa.org/rpt/