By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Goshen Plan Commission members Tuesday gave their blessing to a proposed plan to enlarge the current Consolidated River Race/U.S. 33 Economic Development Area. The goal is to bring significant infrastructure improvements and expanded business and employment opportunities to the area.
The vote follows a similar vote by the Goshen Redevelopment Commission during its Jan. 8 meeting. City Council members also approved the plan at their Tuesday meeting.
“The Redevelopment Commission is proposing to expand what’s called the economic development area, for which we also use the term TIF (Tax Increment Finance) area a lot,” said Community Development Director Mark Brinson. “So we’re expanding the current TIF area which extends all the way from U.S. 33 out near Walmart to the downtown. That is being expanded to include some properties on the east side of Goshen, and is connected to the downtown.”
According to Brinson, nearly 80 percent of the area targeted for expansion is zoned manufacturing. To help illustrate the proposed changes, Brinson provided commission members with several maps detailing those targeted areas, which included most of Ninth Street from College Avenue to U.S. 33, parts of Monroe Street and Logan Street, Steury Avenue, and a section of Clinton Street from Third to Ninth street. Brinson also noted significant planned improvements to Ind. 4/Lincoln Avenue as it heads into the city, a section also known as the Lincoln Avenue Corridor.
Goshen Planning and Zoning Administrator Rhonda Yoder indicated that Tuesday’s approval by the Plan Commission was necessary primarily in order to ensure that the proposed plan does not deviate from the city’s current comprehensive plan.
“Basically what the Plan Commission is determining is that what’s being proposed is consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan,” Yoder said.
According to the declaratory resolution approved by the commission, the list of potential improvements to the area that could arise due to the TIF expansion is significant. A small sampling of the nearly 30 proposed infrastructure improvements connected to the expansion include:
• A pedestrian/bicycle trail from Purl Street to the Elkhart County Fairgrounds;
• An improved streetscape along Ninth Street from College Avenue to Lincoln Avenue;
• Intersection improvements at 10th Street and College Avenue, numerous Ninth Street intersections, and 10th Street and Reynolds Street;
• Road improvements along Ninth Street from College Avenue to Purl Street, along Logan Street, and along Pike Street from west of Third Street east past Goshen High School;
• Sidewalk improvements along Plymouth Avenue and Purl Street; and
• Creation of a “quiet zone” from Goshen College to the downtown area including the construction of gates and safety measures at corridor railroad crossings.
“So that kind of gives you an idea of the types of projects we’re proposing,” Brinson said. “I’m not saying that we’re going to do all those projects. These are basically just projects that you’ve identified that are included in the plan.”
Brinson noted that as the plan moves forward, the Redevelopment Commission will be tasked with deciding what projects are the highest priority, as well as what type of funding is available to do those projects.
“This East Goshen area we see is an area that needs a lot of public improvements,” Brinson said, “and this would be a very useful tool to have to help make that happen.”