WARSAW — The Kosciusko County Redevelopment Commission met for a lengthy meeting Thursday morning to discuss the possibility of changing the way riverfront and lakefront districts are zoned, and how liquor licenses are handled, to redevelop the area. Representative Curt Nisly was present to hear the pitch, the only representative to respond to the Commission’s outreach.
Several cities in the state have benefited from riverfront district redevelopments, which makes it easier for businesses to obtain 3-way liquor licenses that allow restaurants to serve wine, beer and liquor.
The overall goal presented was to build up the community along the lakes. Currently restaurants are limited along the county’s large lakes, especially those with the ability to serve alcohol. The Commission simply is asking Nisly if something can be done, such as possibly rezoning these areas as riverfront or potentially creating non-municipal lakefront regulations that would make room for additional liquor licenses.
“I think any county with lakes would jump on this as a good idea,” states Bill Warren.
Warren informed Nisly that there are some good lakes to be developed in the county, with Wawasee the largest lake in Indiana, and Tippecanoe the deepest.
To entice Nisly to commit to the project, Bruce Woodward brought up points about tourism and the extra generated revenue. He stated that technological advancement means people aren’t spending as much recreational time on the lakes, but by building up restaurants you give people a reason to come out.
“The lakes are communities,” Woodward insists, “and you need a central point such as a restaurant to bring a sense of community to an area.”
Having more places to dine would also keep tourists local instead of them traveling to nearby cities like Goshen and Fort Wayne. He added that this would also increase safety, as more people would stay close to home.
George Robertson, CEO of the Kosciusko County Economic Development Corp., commented that he wants to fix what’s here. He stated that the quality of place is an important aspect in today’s economy.
“The important place to start is to fix what you already have. Too many communities [want something new].”
Recent surveys through the local orthopedic companies indicated that a top reason employees didn’t like the area was a lack of winter activities. Robertson states that restaurants around the lake and the ability to go out in the winter is a good starting point in improving quality of place.
“We will do anything you want us to do to help,” Warren added.
Representative Nisly will be looking for other representatives who may be interested in similar redevelopment in their prospective districts and agreed to look into the possibility of meeting the county’s goals.
The next Kosciusko County Redevelopment Commission meeting is at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13th.