By SCOTT WEISSER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — Is the road in need of rebranding?
During a town hall-style meeting Monday at Greencroft, Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman discussed the Waterford Mills Parkway, a southside route some people refer to as "Allan's Road to Nowhere." According to Kauffman, it's going places.
The mayor said the road will be built across the railroad tracks to Ind. 15 in 2015. He also said a city-county group of elected officials has been working on what happens west of Ind. 15.
"I know that everybody in Waterford is nervous about what's going to happen in Waterford," Kauffman said. "We have, with the county engineer, laid out a path through mostly undeveloped Waterford and using the existing C.R. 40 bridge instead of building a new river crossing."
Kauffman indicated a public information meeting with Waterford residents will happen in the next couple of weeks.
"We think the solution that we have there is going to please more people in Waterford than it's going to make unhappy," he said.
Around 40 people attended the Greencroft gathering Monday. They heard Kauffman discuss several projects and topics in addition to the south link road, including:
• The intersection of Main Street and Kercher Road, which the mayor described as a "huge bottleneck." He said city and county officials are engineering an intersection improvement project there in collaboration with the Indiana Department of Transportation. Kauffman said he hopes that can be constructed in the next year or so.
Kauffman also said Kercher Road is scheduled to be rebuilt from Main Street all the way to Dierdorff Road (C.R. 27). The road will be widened and include a center turn lane.
• The U.S. 33 project, set to commence in 2016. Kauffman indicated the reroute from Goshen High School along the railroad tracks to Pike Street will divert truck traffic from downtown.
Kauffman also acknowledged he worries about what traffic patterns will look like in Goshen in 2016 and '17 while the road projects are being constructed.
"You might want to stay in your homes a couple years before you venture out," he joked.
• Development along the millrace. Kauffman said the old factory buildings are gone except for the last one standing — the former Hawks furniture factory. He said LaCasa officials have received their last piece of funding needed to revamp the building into artist loft apartments.
The mayor also talked about the housing planned along the millrace, adding, "You should see some buildings being built along the Millrace within the next year or so."
• The Jefferson Street reconstruction in front of the police and courts building. Kauffman said the street had been in bad condition for some time, and the water/sewer utilities underneath needed to be replaced.
Kauffman favors reverse-angle parking on the street. If that experiment proves to be a mistake, he said, the street can be restriped.
• The Orchard. Kauffman said a group in that area is trying to put together an agreement with Goshen officials to get city water/sewer services to the subdivision and possibly have The Orchard annexed into Goshen. Kauffman indicated there are issues in The Orchard related to failing septic systems.
"It's a small committee that's working with us right now," the mayor said. "They're going to be working with their residents and having a public meeting to work on that in the future."
"We don't know if most of the people in The Orchard are going to want to be annexed or not," Kauffman later added. "We are not going there to do an unfriendly annexation — they have to petition us for annexation."
• A proposal for an industrial park. Kauffman talked about land on the north side of the city along Ind. 15 owned by Pete Liegl, who wants to develop an industrial park there. The idea is try to package more land with that.
"The city is working to see if we can get utilities to that land so that it can be developed," Kauffman said Monday. "It's pretty ripe for development, and we do need more industrial land in the community for further growth..."
• The effect of property tax caps. One local impact, Kauffman said, is that Goshen school officials had to expand student walking routes to one mile. Kauffman said that following the time change, there will be students walking a mile to school in the dark.
"If you think about families with young children and when they're making decisions about where they want to live and they're looking at school districts, busing may be one of the issues — 'Do I want my kid to be somewhere where they have to walk a mile in the dark, or do I want them somewhere where they get picked up at the end of the driveway and taken to school?,'" he said.
The tax caps are also prompting city officials to look for ways to raise revenue, according to Kauffman. One avenue being considered is a 1 percent food and beverage tax, which the mayor said would raise around $600,000 annually.
The mayor also heard questions from audience members Monday.
Ron Hoke was curious about the plan for College Avenue, and the intersection of College Avenue and U.S. 33. He asked whether College would be widened all the way to Main Street.
"We don't have a project yet to widen College Avenue all the way to Main Street," Kauffman replied. "What happens at the intersection of College Avenue and U.S. 33, I don't know yet."
Kauffman said the College/U.S. 33 intersection is controlled by state officials. He also said the U.S. 33 project doesn't extend out that far.
Fred Buttell wanted to know about the future of Fidler Pond along U.S. 33.
"What else are we going to do with it, why and what are the restrictions going to be?" he asked.
"I can't answer all the questions," Kauffman replied. "Some of this is in the development process as far as a management plan and a development plan. There are conceptual drawings being done. We don't have all the money to do those things."
Kauffman said most of the complaints received thus far have been about there not being enough parking at the site. Also, some people want to be able to fish at the pond without catch-and-release restrictions. However, Kauffman said, half the money for the pond came from the Department of Natural Resources, and right now the agreement with the DNR is for catch-and-release only.
The mayor also said he didn't want the pond to be an "incompatible use" with people living in neighboring Gorham Woods.