Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 12, 2013

It's best to look to city's future

— Sometime, when you think you can least afford it, it is the best of times to make a farsighted move. Case in point:

In the mid-1930s during the worldwide financial crisis, the city of Amsterdam, Holland, decided to create a large municipal forest and nature preserve from scratch. Never mind that the site chosen was a marshy bog into which no self-respecting tree would think of putting down roots. So, tremendous amounts of soil needed to be trucked in to form the initial landscape.

Today the magnificent and mature Amsterdam Woods feature miles and miles of bike paths and hiking trails, a goat farm, bird-nesting sites, a one-kilometer-long race for competitive rowing (great to skate on in the winter!), spacious meadows to lay down and soak up the sun, a rookery of great blue herons nesting in the treetops, ponds for fishing and canoeing, places to observe wildlife, a site where young children can meet young animals, and so much more.

Now, just 80 years later, 10,000 citizens can enjoy the Amsterdam Woods on any given weekend and the place would still not be crowded. What a treasure!

I’m sure that in those years of high unemployment, poverty and long bread-lines, some folks focusing only on the “here and now” asked: Why? I am glad there were far-sighted others who asked: Why not?

Goshen’s proposal for a community center is far more modest, and it includes in any case many components that are needed for our schools and for our great city.

We have heard, and will hear from some who are focused only on the “here and now,” asking: Why? I am glad for Goshen’s dreamers and visionaries who have said, “Why not?,” and are willing to put their time, energy and considerable skills behind a project that will brighten Goshen’s future, a gift that keeps on giving.

— Jan Gleysteen