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Rod Roberson celebrates Elkhart's quality of place in 2023 State of the City address

 Rod Roberson delivers the 2023 Elkhart State of the City
Marek Mazurek, WVPE
Rod Roberson delivers the Elkhart State of the City on Monday June 5, 2023

For Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson, quality of place is the concept driving the city forward as it looks to build on the momentum of the past three years.

Speaking at a meeting of the Elkhart Rotary Club on Monday, Roberson delivered the annual State of the City address, touting the city’s strong housing market and focus on entertainment.

“The dynamics of quality of place simply overwhelm almost everything else local governments do,” Roberson said. “Young people are the future of growth and they’re mobile. What’s going to make them put down roots? Quality of place.”

Roberson said all aspects of city government play a role in quality of place, but he highlighted the completion of the River Greenway Trail and city’s recently announced plans tobuild an 8,000 seat amphitheater as recent successful initiatives.

“To make quality of place work, we must capitalize on the things that are uniquely Elkhart,” Roberson said.

The mayor, who’s ending his first term at the end of this year, also cited a report from the Wall Street Journal, which has named Elkhart one of the nation’s best emerging housing markets for the third time in two years. Since late 2021, the city has created more than 600 jobs and $85 million in investments through economic incentives for business, according to Roberson.

Roberson also credited the Elkhart Police Department, which reported an 11% decrease in violent crimes in 2022, as another component in creating a good quality of place. Use of force complaints are declining and staffing levels are rising, Roberson said, which are signs of the department’s shift away from the negative culture created under past administrations and police chiefs.

Monday’s State of the City marked Roberson’s fourth address and the mayor took a moment to celebrate what he sees as the city’s progress in those four years.

“If you remember [in 2019], Elkhart was coming off of a massive flood. The police department was being viewed as an embarrassment. Tolson Youth Center was being closed and the city’s administration and council were at war with each other. We’ve come a long way,” Roberson said.

Roberson is running for re-election and is so far not opposed by either party.

The mayor also touted the city’s 311 system as a successful way to engage neighborhoods in the city and emphasized the importance of of public-private partnerships in addressing housing and other issues.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.