Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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December 30, 2012

Council's support of Housing Authority was one of top events in 2012

GOSHEN — 2012 was a big year for the Goshen City Council.

From taking quick action to save the Goshen Housing Authority to lengthy trash service and budget discussions, the seven members of the City Council worked throughout the year on many different issues within the city.

Councilman Ed Ahlersmeyer cited the Goshen Housing Authority issue as the biggest thing he dealt with this year.

“It was one of the first things that I handled as a councilman, and I think I learned a lot about the community and the council’s roll in it,” he said. “It was a learning experience for me.”

Councilman Jim McKee said he also believed the Goshen Housing Authority bail-out, where the council members voted to financially assist the failing Housing Authority, was one of the biggest things to tackle.

“We also had two downtown ordinances looking at curfews and sidewalks during First Fridays, and the budget,” McKee said, recalling this year’s action. “I hope we’ll handle it a bit better next year.”

Mayor Allan Kauffman said he was proud of the work on city infrastructure this year, and that the more he thinks about it, the more he realizes what the city has done in just a year’s time.

“It was a successful year,” Kauffman said. “We took steps forward to making Goshen a better place, and we have a lot of good people in our offices working to make it better.”

Councilman Jeremy Stutsman said he thinks working with Councilman Tom Stump, Kauffman, City Engineer Mary Cripe and the Indiana Department of Transportation toward realigning U.S. 33 is some of the most important work done in 2012.

“Even though it’s not finalized yet, we’re headed in the right direction,” Stutsman said.

Kauffman commended the city staff on projects like the combined sewer overflow detention facility, which was a long-term project completed this year that combines stormwater and sewer material in a rain event and can store it until the treatment plant can process the extra water. Essentially, it’s an extra bucket with a filter on it that catches extra water the wastewater treatment plant can’t treat in time, and holds it until the plant can catch up.

“We’re ahead of many communities with this,” Kauffman said. “Some are only just starting to plan theirs, and we have ours done.”

Kauffman also noted the acquisition of Fidler’s Pond this summer. Once fully acquired and developed, the pond will become another city park.

“Someday that’s going to be a good asset for the city,” Kauffman said.

Park and Recreation Superintendent Sheri Howland said Friday closing paperwork for the pond will be signed soon. The pond, however, is not open to the public, and won’t be until the conservation easement is finalized — something that won’t happen for a few months, she said.

“It’s going to offer the Parks Department the opportunity for different programming,” Howland said. “It’s very exciting.”

Also completed this year were several projects along the millrace, Stutsman said, including a new parking lot and the finalization of the last of the brownfield remediation projects.

Councilwoman Julia Gautsche noted, among other items, two studies completed in Goshen during 2012 — the Ninth Street Corridor Study, funded by an Environmental Protection Agency grant, and the Goshen Theater Feasibility Study, funded by an Indiana Landmarks Foundation grant and matched by the Redevelopment Commission, Downtown 808 and Menno Travel.

“(The Goshen Theater) study gives Downtown Goshen Inc. the tools to develop a plan to preserve this community treasure and to continue to make it available for community use,” she said.

The next year

Along with a blanket of confetti and well wishes for a new year, January 2013 will bring with it two major discussions in the community of Goshen: how to pay for city trash service and whether or not school district and city residents should pay for the construction of a community center.

Kauffman said the budget and trash service for 2013 are taken care of, but serious conversations need to happen in 2013 to figure out a way to pay for the service going forward.

“It will be what you want to cut, and what you want to pay,” Kauffman said.

The biggest conversation in the community will be about the Goshen Community Center, Kauffman said. From whether the council members allow the conversation to go to a public hearing, or even all the way to a public referendum vote in May, the project must pass several hurdles, Kauffman said.

McKee said the community center discussion is “coming like a freight train.” Stutsman also agreed with Kauffman and McKee: The center, he said, will be something to look at “right out of the gate.”

“I’m interested to see how the conversation about the community center will go,” Stutsman said. “ I have my own feelings, but I want to know what other people think. I imagine it will go to a public hearing... We’re also going to have to deal with the trash fee. We may not institute it next year, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to have to make a plan for when it comes down.”

Some larger problems to contend with are declining revenue from property tax caps and ongoing traffic difficulties, Gautsche said.

“I think 2013 will be busy, just as 2012 was,” she said.

 

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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