Street Talk; Local thoughts, ideas about SoMa
Posted on Oct. 26, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

Correspondent Mark Shephard visited the Elkhart YMCA this week and asked, “Question: What ideas do you have regarding the SoMa (Supporting Our Main Assets) initiative? SoMa is the “inclusive effort to create a downtown that is a destination for people to live, work and play.”

Charles Kincaid, insurance agent, Elkhart:

“Well, they keep taking away money from things like the Jazz Festival and the Summerfest, and stuff like that, so I don’t see how they’re going to improve anything if they take money away from it. They seem to think that stuff is not important, but they want to create all this beauty downtown. They’re not doing anything about the violence, which we’re having shootings on a daily basis here in Elkhart. You can’t improve a city if you don’t improve your police force.”

John Homan, international customer coordinator Latin America, Elkhart:

“I would guess having some more restaurants, some more coffee shops, because right now we have a couple restaurants, but mainly after that it’s bars and McDonald’s. So that would make it more interesting. I think they’re going in the right direction, and I’m really excited about the ArtWalk. I’ve been a part of that. We need more destinations. It looks like we have enough taverns and bars, but we need some more coffee shops, more things like the Daily Grind. We used to have a couple of bookstores. That was nice.”

Pat Roll, small business owner, Elkhart:

“I’m all for it. I have a business downtown, and it has been hard trying to get it going, so I welcome any initiatives they’re trying to do.” Follow-up question: So what do you think would make Elkhart even better than it is? “The parking situation is a problem for my clients and customers. There isn’t enough parking. They have to go around the corner two or three times before they find a parking spot. And I really think we need something downtown that is a focal point. Besides the Lerner, we need something else to bring people downtown.”

Shelley Schuck, day care worker, Elkhart:

“Some of these houses that are lining up coming to downtown need to be either repaired or removed. We’ve got a lot of bad neighborhoods bordering right up to downtown. And how, I don’t know, but somehow that needs to get wiped out, repaired, renovated, or something, because the bad neighborhoods are coming to close to downtown.”

Theresa Serafino, membership director, Elkhart:

“It’s important to add to the art community. It would be beneficial to have a downtown hotel with a nice nightclub. Investing in the community helps everyone. It helps all sectors. So you invest in downtown, you invest in the community.”

Michael Ruszkowski, field operations manager, Elkhart:

“I think we should do as much as possible to improve the downtown, whatever it will take to attract people back down here. We have so many good things to offer already — the RiverWalk, Wellfield Botanical Gardens — there are just so many things that we have here in Elkhart that people don’t really appreciate.” Follow-up question: Is there a way we can connect all of the good things? “I think that we’ve already got the foundation for that — the RiverWalk travels all the way from Wellfield all the way through downtown.”

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