The growth of city government in Goshen has resulted in the need for more space to house employees, files and equipment.
The City Council has approved a $3.5 million bond to address the problem, which we think is a good idea. Yet, we wonder, is adding space just putting off the inevitable need for a new City Hall?
City Hall used to be in the present police and courts building at Fifth and Jefferson streets. When the new library was constructed the historic 1903 Carnegie library building became available and the City Council decided to relocate the mayor’s and clerk-treasurer’s office there, freeing up space for the police department and City Court.
NOW TIME HAS MOVED ON and the city population and geographical area have increased, causing the size of city government to expand. This $3.5 million bond will be used to add some space, but just where and how is still in the planning stage. Mayor Jeremy Stutsman thought out loud at a recent council meeting, saying the renovation of the second floor of the City Annex building might be a partial solution.
However, putting modern offices in that 1907 building, which once served as Goshen High School, doesn’t seem to be an efficient solution. Such a renovation would do nothing to bring city services together in one location so residents would have easier access to such services.
We will do our own thinking out load about the possibilities. Since the former Elkhart County Jail along Third Street was torn down, many people have wondered what the County Council and County Commissioners will do with the property. Perhaps a new municipal building to consolidate services should be considered for that location. The site is in the center of the city, where all city halls should be located, and would give Goshen residents easy access to the building, either by vehicle, trolley, bicycle or walking.
IF THE COUNCIL decides to only renovate existing buildings for now, the process will retain the hodgepodge of city buildings used to supply city services. Such a decision is not wrong, it just means possible efficiencies will be lost.
The Elkhart County Council and Board of Commissioners recently opted for efficiency of services when they voted to have a courts complex constructed on the north side of Goshen. The idea is to pull together all the county’s courts in Goshen and Elkhart by creating a modern, more secure building that can provide up-to-date amenities for the judicial system and public.
With that in mind, we think the City Council should begin looking into consolidating city services into one building, perhaps two if the police and courts building can be modernized and expanded to meet future needs.