South Bend's riverfront to get an upgrade

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In the past 100 years South Bend has seen a lot of changes.

"Wow, it's changed a great deal." South Bend resident Pat Gragg said. "But then again society's changed a lot."

In that time... the riverfront hasn't changed as much as some in the city would have liked.

"We haven't totally ignored our riverfront in the past hundred years." South Bend Parks and Rec Executive Director Aaron Perri said. "But this will be the first phase of the most significant re-imagining of the riverfront in over 100 years."

What he's talking about isn't adding a whole new park, but to add on to the existing parks and connect them along the river. Transforming the area into a bustling, care -free part of the city built by the people.

"It really allows us not to sketch out what we wish to see in theory, but what we can do with a moment to put actual resources to work. In our community." Mayor Pete Buttegieg said.

This first out of four community meetings for the project invited people to put forth their concerns about the parks currently to see what needs to be added when the project gets underway.

"For the new generations." Gragg said. "For the youngsters that won't get the same opportunities that I had. When it was a bustling happy park. I think they need to get off the couch, they need to get out and enjoy our river."

A large handful of the "youngsters" in town are at the university and don't get out to the river much.

Downtown and the river walk have a lot to offer, but getting from one place to the next isn't too eventful coming from the school.

"The only thing beckoning you along has been the farmer's market, which is quite a distance away and there really haven't been highlights along that path." Third-year architecture major Beth Ncichon said.

the connecting riverfront will make it a great place for students to get out to...

"I think this is... They're talking about it being a ribbon experience so you get the small corridors of experience as you're going, so I think that's going to be really great!" Ncichon said.

But it'll also provide a great experience that can only grow for those choosing to stick around a little longer.

"It could encourage them to stay in the community rather than moving away." South Bend resident Anita Demunk said. "When they start having families, they're going to want to go somewhere where there's greenery and there are trees."

The project will have three more community meetings before the project gets started sometime around May of 2017.