Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 20, 2013

Goshen public should take community center referendum seriously


THE GOSHEN NEWS

— Thanks to a 4-3 vote by the Goshen City Council last week, voters in Goshen — and most likely all eligible voters within the boundaries of Goshen Community Schools — will have an opportunity this spring to decide the fate of a proposed community and aquatics center near downtown.

If the proposal were to proceed as is, the $27.6 million structure would be built on the west side of the Millrace on the site of the former city garage. That facility would include an aquatic center with a wellness and therapy pool; a recreation pool and a competition pool; a gymnasium and fitness center with an indoor track, basketball and volleyball courts and rooms for aerobics and other fitness classes; and family and activity rooms with meeting spaces for clubs, small groups and community events.



In addition, around $7 million in renovations and construction at both Goshen high and middle schools would reclaim current pool spaces and add on to fitness areas. Both schools’ outdated pool areas would be converted to new spaces to help alleviate space problems in music and other programs, according to project coordinator and former GCS Superintendent Bruce Stahly.

Basically, the city and the school corporation would split the nearly $36 million price tag bundled into a 20-year loan. School trustees are expected to officially send its portion to referendum with a vote on Jan. 28. Therefore, Two questions would appear on the special referendum ballot – the community center question and the school improvement question.



The real question is, can Goshen taxpayers and business owners afford this? A median homeowner in Goshen with a house assessed at $107,200 in value can expect to add $84.48 per year to their property tax bill. Over 20 years that adds up to $1,689.60.

The Goshen City Council could have killed the plan last Tuesday by voting to deny the referendum. We would not have blamed council members if they had. Even some of those who voted for the referendum admit the community center proposal is too costly as it currently reads. We tend to agree.



With that said, we have no problem with this matter going to a public vote in May. Leading up to the referendum this newspaper will do everything it can to make sure the public has all the information it needs to make an informed decision.  And we will encourage all eligible voters to take the time to vote on this matter. Every member of the community is a stakeholder in this. The City Council has given residents a voice. Let’s make that voice heard.