Preservation and innovation intersected with an approval by the Goshen Board of Zoning Appeals Tuesday night. Representatives from Maple City Health Care came before the board with a variance request that would allow the business to open a new facility in the Main Street residence most predominately known as the Abshire mansion on the city’s north side.
The home is currently the site of the not-for-profit Fourth Freedom Forum. The space has become too much for the group and it is looking to downsize with a downtown location.
Dr. James Gingerich, the administrator for Maple City Health Care, came before the board with possible intentions for the historic home. His message was quite clear. The Abshire home will be preserved.
In an economy that has yet to truly find firm footing, using existing spaces rather than undergoing huge capital projects to build new locations seems a good way to go for some businesses. Combine that with the fact that by allowing Maple City Health Care to use the home it gives public access to one of Goshen’s more historic structures. We couldn’t agree more with the board’s decision to approve the variance request.
There were some at Tuesday night’s meeting who spoke out against the potential move. They cited traffic concerns and worried about how it would impact the neighborhood. Those concerns are understandable and some steps were taken at Tuesday’s meeting to address them. Commitments to maintain the architectural integrity of the home as well as the green space of the property were made.
We tend to believe Gingerich when he stated Tuesday night that he sees the home as a “treasure” in the midst of the North Goshen neighborhood.
It wouldn’t do Gingerich or Maple City Health Care any good to turn a beautiful early 20th-century mansion into some cookie cutter clinic. Rarely are there truly win-win situations. But we feel this deal fits into that category. Maple City Health Care gets to open a new facility without the burden of building a brand-new facility. Fourth Freedom Forum will be able to unload the property and move into another space inside the city. As for the Abshire home, it will receive the care and upkeep it needs and deserves with a new owner.
Rather than becoming vacant, decaying due to neglect and turning into a potential eyesore it will remain open and vibrant. The BZA looked at the big picture in making its decision and we feel that moves like this one help strengthen the community.