Being a good neighbor

Author: Notre Dame Magazine

Notre Dame is helping spur revitalization of the Northeast Neighborhood south of campus and has opened a community center in the former Goodwill store near the intersection of Eddy Street and South Bend Avenue. But those aren’t the only town-gown collaborations. Some other new and continuing efforts:

Frederickson Park Reclamation. This 15-acre parcel of land near the Sears parts and service store on South Bend Avenue southeast of campus was used as an unregulated dump from the 1930s to the 1970s. Initial plans called for topping the polluted soil with a layer of clay, sealing it with a layer of asphalt and then burning off the trapped methane gas. The result would have been a permanent eyesore. Students and faculty from the College of Engineering are working on plans to create an environmental center on the property instead. The center would be similar to one they helped develop over a landfill in Elkhart.
South Bend Design Center. Students and faculty from the School of Architecture last year opened an office on Main Street, where they collaborate with city officials, local architects and property owners on projects ranging from storefront renovations to larger-scale site development. Current projects include riverfront development and exploring ideas for an identifiable city center to give downtown more of a sense of place.

Coquillard Park Renovation. WNDU-TV, the NBC affiliate in South Bend owned by Notre Dame, plans to begin an “Our Park” project later this year to renovate this small community park behind Perley Elementary School, a few blocks south of campus. Like many neighborhood parks in South Bend, Coquillard has declined in recent years as the city has focused its attention and resources on larger, community-wide parks.

The Center for the Homeless. In 1988 Notre Dame contributed $1 million to purchase and renovate a former men’s clothing store downtown to create this facility. The center’s comprehensive approach to breaking the cycle of homelessness has made it a national model. Each semester six to 10 Notre Dame classes with a service-learning curriculum are located at the center. Four hundred students volunteer monthly and another 40 perform work-study assignments.

Christmas in April. Notre Dame brought this annual one-day home-renovation blitz program to South Bend in 1989. Since then volunteers, supported by the city, the building trades and local business, have rehabilitated more than 520 homes in seven South Bend neighborhoods. Each year more than 1,000 Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College students volunteer.