---- — Last week Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman attended an Indiana Association of Cities and Towns workshop in Carmel, Ind., sitting on a panel that discussed success stories regarding “quality of life” in Indiana communities.
“I was invited,” Kauffman said Thursday during his State of the City addressed hosted by the Goshen Chamber of Commerce at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds, “because staff at the Association of Cities and Towns is hearing Goshen’s name mentioned when people are talking about cool things happening in cities around the state.”
GOSHEN WAS EVEN called out by the first speaker at that workshop — Drew Klacick, senior policy analyst at Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute — as a place where good things are happening. “Knowing that people downstate are hearing about us in good ways,” Kauffman said, “is affirmation that we’re doing some things right.”
Indeed. But such recognition rings hollow unless you truly believe it within. Count us among the believers. If you want to see how well Goshen has done the past two decades in resurrecting its “quality of place” take a road trip around Indiana. Drive the main drag of similar-sized cities. You’ll see that Goshen compares most favorably to all of them. We’re not saying this to knock other communities. The challenges of shrinking revenues and a wicked recession hangover have been just as bad, if not worse, elsewhere. And it’s been pretty bad here.
Goshen for instance, Kauffman pointed out, is back to 2005 revenue levels from property taxes. Since property tax caps went into effect five years ago, Kauffman calculates that Goshen has lost $10 million in revenue, and another $4 million loss is estimated for next year.
YET, GOSHEN’S DOWNTOWN continues to thrive on the backs of long-established businesses and young entrepreneurs who are dreaming big and starting small. Goshen also expanded its park system last year, continues to upgrade its bike trail network and expects to have ground broken on a major urban housing development along the millrace later this year.
The schools are getting a $17.15 million facilities boost, a U.S. 33 reroute through downtown is in the works and progress is being made on a renovation of the Goshen Theater. No wonder they’re talking about us down state.
At the end of his state of the city address Thursday, Kauffman challenged the leaders in the room to be co-creators of the city and make positive differences as ambassadors of Goshen. “We can’t always reverse decisions of our predecessors,” Kauffman said. “We can’t change our community’s history. We can’t change our geographic location. But we can make our future better by making quality decisions and investing wisely.”
Kauffman is right. We shouldn’t take stock of our community once a year over an Amish-style buffet. No, our appreciation and aspiration should consist of a daily inventory of deeds and interactions that keep inching us toward a place we’re more proud of than the day before.