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South Bend earns Municipal Excellence award

Amanda Gray | Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The City of South Bend received the Gold Award for Municipal Excellence from the National League of Cities Friday, specifically because of its involvement in several partnerships to revitalize the area of South Bend around Notre Dame’s campus, according to a University press release.

Tim Sexton, associate vice president of Student Affairs and president of the Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Organization (NNRO), said the award recognizes more than 10 years of work by South Bend and Notre Dame.

“It’s an affirmation of a lot of hard work by a lot of good people,” Sexton said. “It’s also a great recognition for the neighbors [in the Northeast Neighborhood]. It’s shows clearly we are going down the right track.”

South Bend Mayor Stephen Luecke received the award in Denver at the annual Congress of Cities and Exposition put on by the League, according to the press release. Marguerite Taylor, who works for Robinson Community Learning Center and lives in the Northeast Neighborhood, represented the University and the Northeast Neighborhood Council.

“We are very happy that Notre Dame’s hometown has been so deservedly recognized with this award, and we’re pleased, as well, to have played a role in bringing these initiatives to reality for the well-being of our region as a whole,” University spokesman Dennis Brown said.

The award recognized specific efforts between the city and its partners, including the NNRO, Innovation Park, the development and expansion of the Indiana University School of Medicine at South Bend, and plans for a new St. Joseph’s High School, according to the press release.

“Each of the projects cited in the award is beneficial in its own right — supporting economic development, retail and entertainment options, health care, housing and education — and are indicative of the University’s ongoing commitment to being a positive force within our community,” Brown said. “When the public and private sectors work together for the common good, great things can and do happen.”

Sexton said the cities are categorized by population size, and the winning of such an award is a significant event.

“It’s a national award,” Sexton said. “Any time you are recognized nationally, you feel the prestige.”

Sexton said he thinks South Bend won the award because it has strong partnerships, which includes its work with Notre Dame.

“[The city won because of] focus and collaboration,” he said. “The different funding partners, the residents all coming together. It’s partnership.”

Sexton said efforts to improve the Northeast Neighborhood area will continue at least into the next several years, if not beyond. Sixty homes are currently planned for construction near the Robinson Community Learning Center, as well as some rerouting on State Route 23 and plans to continue Eddy Street revitalization south.

“There will be a flurry of activity over the next five years,” Sexton said.

Brown said University partnership with South Bend is not something new with Innovation Park and the Eddy Street revitalizations.

“There is a long history of Notre Dame and South Bend working together — the Center for the Homeless and the Robinson Community Learning Center are two well-known examples — and we certainly have every intention of continuing to collaborate in the future,” he said.