Sunday, October 17, 2004

News of the old neighborhood.

The South Bend Tribune reports today on efforts to have the Chapin Park neighborhood, where I lived for two of my three years in South Bend, designated as a local historic district. The area is already on the National Register of Historic Places, but the new designation would have a more visible impact on the neighborhood by implementing stricter standards on the external appearance of residential structures. I enjoyed living in Chapin Park, and I welcome efforts to maintain and strengthen its distinctive character. My only concern is the possibility that the property use restrictions that come with a new historic district designation might be disproportionately onerous for residents with lower incomes. For me, one of the great things about Chapin Park was its demographic and socioeconomic diversity: here was a neighborhood where blacks and whites, lawyers and construction workers, cops and college students, young families and retirees all lived in close proximity. Community groups like Near Northwest Neighborhood, Inc. have done commendable work over the years to preserve this diversity, and I hope that the historic district proposal won't hinder their efforts. As long as this isn't an issue, by my lights the change would be a positive one. AMDG.


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