Finally! After years of planning, construction, coordinating and moving, we are fully in our new City Hall building and it is fully functional -(ish)! It has been well received and I believe it will serve you well for decades to come. A lot has been communicated and promoted about the major revitalization of the downtown, including the new Mishawaka City Hall, the Skate Ribbon and plaza in development as well as development to the north, and all of the major developments throughout the city. However, our neighborhoods and their parks are central to a strong, vibrant community and central to the core of a healthy, habitable and growing Mishawaka. We try never to lose sight though, that its sometimes the seemingly small projects that make the most impact on people’s lives.
Our main strategy in Mishawaka is to focus on quality-of-life improvements. Mishawaka has always been at the forefront of investing in its services, infrastructure, and amenities such as quality parks. To that end, we are continually juggling projects big and small.
As the park that anchors the neighborhood of tidy homes north of Jefferson Boulevard between Chestnut and Division Streets, Temple Park is an important example of how a small redevelopment project made a big difference in a park long in need of revitalization.
First, a new restroom was installed to replace what I called the worst restroom in the city! We also added a walking path, two half-court basketball courts, a shelter, new playground, bench swings, a gazebo, neighborhood lawn with new landscaping and dedicated open space that can be used for tossing the football around, soccer or flying a kite.
This is one of the smaller parks, but nevertheless vital to a neighborhood that needs this important amenity as a gathering and recreational spot for this neighborhood. While some of the other parks may get public attention because of their size and prominence, neighborhood parks like Temple are vital for establishing community!
Temple Park work cost the city about $440K+ of which Mishawaka received a $45,000 matching grant from the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County. The City’s own talented Central Services workers installed the playground equipment also helped hold costs down.
With Temple Park, we learned a blind child lives in the neighborhood, so plans were made to install a Braille wall and install other accessible equipment for the sight impaired children. In fact, going forward, we have made it a priority that the Mishawaka Parks Department is going to incorporate features that can be enjoyed by children of all abilities at its various parks across the city and the city’s master plan now calls for features like Braille walls in all future park development. As a token of our appreciation for bringing such needs to our attention, we named the Temple Park shelter after the child and his family for helping us plan the park improvements.
While parks and livable neighborhoods are critical to the health of Mishawaka, right now, we in Mishawaka along with our partners are also trying to work to solve an issue that’s facing most growing cities nationwide housing.
What people earn does not align with the current cost of living. We’re looking for solutions that we can use as an example here in Mishawaka. There’s a tremendous need, and we want to construct another single family, homeowner occupied sub-division here in the City of Mishawaka. We want to provide additional housing opportunities for everyone in the city.
The City of Mishawaka, Habitat for Humanity [HFH], the University of Notre Dame as well as other key partners are potentially looking at making a $3.5 million investment in a significant housing development on a 21-acre city land plot just off Dragoon Trail, west of Marian High School. I am excited that these significant collaborators want to work with us to possibly develop a mix of affordable and market-rate housing as well as different styles of homes to meet the needs of various demographics; including starter homes, houses to fit a family and even empty nesters. HFH has already reached out to the surrounding neighborhood to gather input, concerns and thoughts of existing residents.
Yes, Mishawaka continues to build a community that future generations can be proud of; one that is a very desirable place in which to live, work, raise a family, recreate, and retire; but also, to visit, shop, seek healthcare, and do business. Thankfully, our Mishawaka families and amazing citizens continue to pass down their love and pride for the City of Mishawaka from generation to generation.
One such citizen I want to lift up is Mike Faulkner. It is important I believe that we commemorate the exemplary life of this remarkable man who dedicated his life to a serving his community and the “Mishawaka Cavemen” that he so dearly loved.
Mike was loved by all and his efforts on behalf of our community and remarkable leadership have made a lasting difference that will not soon be forgotten. There truly could not have been a kinder and more dedicated man who gave it all to impact countless lives.
Unfortunately, we have lost a notable man that has served as an inspiration to us. Mike stands as a model to all of us, of his love for his community and steadfast service to others. Mike’s life and inspiration will live on through the many lives that have been deeply touched.