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South Bend parks director unveils 2020 budget Wednesday

NOW: South Bend parks director unveils 2020 budget Wednesday

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Construction continues at several parks in South Bend as the city’s Venues, Parks, and Arts Department come to the end of a nearly $50 million park investment from 2017. 

“We’re going to focus heavily on finishing up all the projects we’ve got underway,” said Aaron Perri, executive director of VPA. “I think we’ve got about 35 active project sites here.”

On Wednesday, Perri called the department’s 2020 budget ‘simple’ asking the South Bend Common Council for $15,407,952. Two years ago, the city made its largest parks investment which helped fund neighborhood and marquee projects like Howard Park, which is set to open in the fall. 

“We’re very proud to be able to reintroduce that back into the downtown,” Perri said.  “But it’s important that we’re given due to all these other projects in the community as well.”

People claim the department has prioritized certain projects over others, paying $650,000 for the highly criticized mobile tool called the ‘Boombox’ and not for neighborhood parks like Coquillard. 

In August, Mozell Bowens told ABC 57 News he’d like to see more grills, benches and updated equipment at the southeast side park. Perri said it is a process. 

“We can’t do it all at once,” he said. “We can’t be everywhere at once so be patient with us, give us your ideas and feedback.”

In March, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said 2019 would be a year of transformation for public spaces. Perri called 2020 a challenging year with the property tax caps going into full effect. 

According to Perri, his department will need to use staff wisely and create partnerships within the community whenever they can. 

“We’re going to be able to continue to improve and expand our impact despite the fact that we’re seeing less in property taxes next year,” he said. 

The Common Council will vote in October on the final budget. To add concerns or feedback call 311. 

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