Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

March 11, 2012

Goshen eyesores are worth a look

Interviews take many forms. Face-to-face chats are preferable. Hampered by distance or deadline pressures, reporters may opt for a telephone interview.

Sometimes, though, it’s good to just go for a drive.

That’s what Dan Spalding did the other day. The Goshen News reporter was in the passenger seat of a car driven by Goshen City Council member Dixie Robinson. As they toured Goshen’s northside, Spalding got an eyeful of what Robinson sees all the time.

It wasn’t always a pretty picture.

Robinson is in her second term as Goshen’s 3rd District council representative. She’s also a lifetime northside Goshen resident, and longtime foe of unkempt properties.

Robinson feels conditions in certain northside areas have deteriorated in recent years. She recently put together a list of the worst offenders — residential properties Robinson believes violate city code regarding trash, or at minimum just need to be cleaned up.

Junked cars, derelict sofas and piles of old tires draw Robinson’s ire. Smaller irritants such as discarded paper cups and fast-food wrappers concern her, too.

Owners of problem properties may grumble that Robinson has too much time on her hands. Hardly. The News thinks the councilwoman is spending her time wisely, namely working for better neighborhoods for her constituents.

For the record, the 3rd District doesn’t have a monopoly on eyesores. A Goshen-wide sightseeing tour would be guaranteed to turn up multiple examples of the unsightly. Nor, too, should the owner of every seemingly unkempt property be demonized. Illness, age or financial hardship may be factors.

That said, too many Goshenites are taking too little care with neighborhood upkeep. And it’s more than a matter of personal preference, or individual choice.

As Robinson pointed out in Friday’s newspaper, “It affects everybody’s property values.” Eyesores also impact neighborhood moods and attitudes. To visitors, they’re a poor reflection of what a community is, or should be.

City officials have hired two part-time workers to bolster the efforts of a full-time code enforcement officer. The goal is for staffers to do more patroling and looking for violations rather than just respond to complaints. The News favors that plan and considers it a good use of tax dollars.

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There has been discussion at West Goshen Elementary School to require mandatory student uniforms in the future. How do you feel about the prospect of mandatory student uniforms in a public school environment?

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