By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — There’s a new company interested in using the city’s powerhouse along the millrace canal to produce electricity generated by water power, but it’s going to take some convincing.
During a meeting of the Goshen Redevelopment Commission Tuesday, RDC members heard a request by South Bend-based Falling Waters LLC seeking an agreement with the city to lease a portion of the powerhouse and the nearby canal bank for use in the establishment of a hydroelectric or hydrokinetic electric energy producing operation. Any electricity generated by the company would then be sold to NIPSCO.
According to the request, Falling Waters is seeking a 25 year lease agreement with the city for a portion of the powerhouse property located just west and north of the powerhouse building at a cost of $125 a month beginning Jan. 1.
As part of that agreement, Falling Waters would need to install several structures at the site. An example of the structures proposed include a 12-by-12 foot building alongside the trailrace bank as well as several turbines with housings and electrical connections from the turbines to the new powerhouse and from the powerhouse to the extant NIPSCO power poles for delivery to the grid.
Despite assurances that any structures utilized by Falling Waters in its endeavour would require final approval by the RDC, several commission members raised concerns Tuesday about the aesthetics of the proposal, particularly when looking at how the new structures might affect the overall look of the millrace canal — an area which has been the focus of significant and costly improvements over the past few years. Still others on the commission raised concerns over the 25 year lease agreement, stating instead they would like to see a shorter lease agreement with the potential for additional extensions down the line.
In the end, the commission agreed to table the request for 30 days in order to allow Falling Waters time to develop some solid design proposals while also allowing the RDC time to establish an aesthetic standard for the project that is acceptable to everyone on the commission.
“I think it’s a good project. I just don’t want to do it at any cost,” said RDC member Jeremy Stutsman. “This is an exciting project, and I’d like to make sure it happens. But I want to protect the amount of money we’ve spent (in the millrace area) the best we can.”
In other business, the commission approved:
• the establishment of a standard lease agreement for the Goshen Powerhouse property located at 324 W. Washington Street. Several organizations and groups have indicated interest in renting the Powerhouse for gatherings and fundraisers over the past few months, leading commission members to look into establishing a standard rental agreement for use of the property. The final agreed upon sum for rental of the property was $75 per event.
• a request by Downtown Goshen Inc. to rent the Powerhouse on Saturday, Sept. 21, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the annual Maple City Walk event. Cost of the rental was set at the newly established standard of $75.
• a one-time mow and weed treatment agreement with S&L Environmental Group Inc. to perform mowing and weed treatment at 315 W. Washington St., from Beaver Lane to Greene Road along U.S. 33 and along the east side of the millrace canal bank from Monroe Street to Madison Street at a cost of $2,015.
• a contract amendment with John Ward Concrete Inc. allowing for the removal of an additional 500 cubic yards of soil as part of the ongoing remediation efforts at the old Hawks Building, 214 W. Jefferson St., Goshen. Cost for the additional work was set at $4,000, bringing the total cost for the selective demolition and remediation project to $161,170.
• a request by the city engineering department to send out Request for Proposals, or RFP’s, for the design engineering and right-of-way acquisition services for Phase 2 of the Northwest Bicycle Trail. According to city engineer Mary Cripe, the trail provides a safe connection from the residential area located on the city’s northwest side to the U.S. 33 commercial corridor. Phase 2 of the trail will continue along Bashor Road to the new C.R. 17 corridor; then north along the new C.R. 17 corridor to Peddlers Village Road; then west along Peddlers Village Road to a north/south easement that would connect to the southeast corner of the Sam’s Club drive area. Total cost for the project is projected at $2.5 million, with approximately $1.1 million coming from local funds and $1.4 million coming from federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds.