Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Who We Are

March 4, 2014

WHO WE ARE: ‘Quality of place’ key in Goshen

GOSHEN — Like a fine wine, quality of life in Goshen will only continue to improve with age.

That’s the prediction of longtime Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman, who for nearly 20 years has championed the importance of what he calls “quality of place” in the potential growth and improvement of cities such as Goshen.

For Kauffman, “quality of place” is a concept that looks beyond the everyday necessities of what keeps a city running to focus more on the types of things that make it unique.

“It means more than filling potholes; it means more than public safety; it means more than economic development,” Kauffman said of the concept. “People don’t choose to move somewhere because they fill the potholes, or because we figured out how to move traffic on the south side of town, etc. All of those basic things are important, but young people don’t choose to move somewhere because of the basics. They move there because of the amenities and the things that make a community special.”

Along those lines, Kauffman noted that this idea of “quality of place” is very much alive and well in Goshen today, adding that even despite big hits to the area over the past couple of years due to property tax caps and the down economy, Goshen continues to be a place where people want to live and work.

“Like I’ve said before, the nature of this job is not to focus on what has already been done. It’s about focusing on what’s coming next,” Kauffman said. “I often refer to the pothole that was filled yesterday. You don’t celebrate that pothole. You look for more potholes to fill. So you’re always looking from one problem to the next, and often it’s not until someone comes back for a reunion, or they move back to Goshen after being away for a while, that they realize, ‘Wow, things have really improved.’”

Improvements

In referencing some of the more recent examples of how this idea of “quality of place” has been advanced within the city, Kauffman pointed first to the significant infrastructure improvements in the works along the city’s millrace.

“Along the millrace, there have been years of incremental change,” Kauffman said, pointing to such things as the extensive environmental cleanup and rehabilitation taking place at the old Hawks Furniture and NIPSCO properties, as well as the planned construction of a large new residential community along the canal. “Until you take a step back and really look at it, you don’t really think about just how much things have improved in the area. So I think the millrace is maybe the biggest example of that right now.”

In addition to the millrace, Kauffman also pointed out the recent addition of Fidler Pond to the city’s park network, the revitalization of the city’s downtown due to First Fridays, and the ongoing push to clean up and organize the city’s neighborhoods as big wins for the city.

Even so, Kauffman was quick to warn that despite its notable growth over the past few years, the city cannot afford to become complacent, as continued growth relies on keeping this idea of “quality of place” always at the forefront.

“There’s always room to improve, and that’s one of the things that’s a little bit disconcerting about what the state’s doing with things like the property tax caps,” Kauffman said. “You need revenue to keep improving things, and knowing when you’re challenged, you have to take care of the basics first. But you don’t want to see those extra things fall by the wayside.”

Defining your place

Kauffman noted there is plenty of room for improvement on the brick-and-mortar side of things — public safety, sanitation, road repair, etc. — a fact he said requires a constant balancing act between the push for city necessities versus city amenities.

“We’ve definitely still got some basics to improve,” Kauffman said. “We can use more police officers, for example, and we could use a couple more street department workers to make sure the snow gets plowed, things like that. But right now I think it’s basically just about continuing to do what we’ve been doing, and moving forward in that direction. Everybody says they want their city to be a good place to live, work, play and raise a family. Every city says that. But it’s how you go about doing that that defines your quality of place.”

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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