The Maple City is a livable city -- and Mayor Allan Kauffman's goal appears to be to improve upon that livability with every project the city undertakes.
When he gave his annual State of the City Address Thursday at the Goshen Founder's Day luncheon -- the event just so happened to be celebrating the city's 175th birthday this year -- the mayor outlined some of the unique elements Goshen has to offer.
Among them: New World Arts; the Mill Race Center Farmer's Market; the Farm Bureau Credit Union building; the multi-generational retailers that continue to remain downtown; a facade grant program; LaCasa; new parking rules; a skate park; bike and pedestrian trails; the Rieth Interpretive Center; retirement communities; Goshen College; the Goshen Boys & Girls Club; and Goshen hospital.
"We have a lot of vitality going on in the downtown that a lot of (cities) would just love to have," the mayor said.
He credited his staff and the greater community for contributing to the thriving city.
Obviously, Goshen is doing something right: The city grew 25 percent between 1990 and 2000 and another 10 percent since 2000. Growth -- residential, commercial and industrial -- continues. Maybe because it has that small-city charm but offers the things that most people can find in cities much larger in size.
Kauffman quoted a recent Truth story in which Eric Kanagy, president of New World Arts and a board member of Face of the City, said: "I talk to people daily who come to New World Arts and ask 'What is going on? How does Goshen have a winery, how does it have nice restaurants, how does it have a theater that is doing Chicago-style theater?' There is a thirst for the kind of place Goshen is, and the kind of place Goshen is becoming."
We were also pleased to hear that Kauffman hasn't given up on the idea of a multi-purpose facility. While the organizers pulled out when the city council blinked on what they were asking taxpayers to contribute to Central Park, Kauffman said that the city continues to work with NIPSCO on obtaining property the company owns in the redevelopment area. "I haven't given up on this idea, but there's been some opposition to it," he said. "I think we need to continue to look ahead."
"Looking ahead" means providing amenities that will attract new people to Goshen and bring the younger generation back home, he indicated.
While Kauffman is a great cheerleader for the city, he also is realistic about things that need work. The council approved $850,000 for sidewalks in areas where kids walk to school; the city is working with the county, Elkhart and Bristol on a stormwater management plan; and it was among the first cities to have its long-term control plan for combined sewer overflows approved. Local road projects also are continuing.
Goshen's financial position is "relatively good," the mayor said. Taxpayers will be happy to know that the tax rate will drop 5 cents this year. There aren't many cities that can boast a decrease in the tax rate while still providing the level of services offered in the Maple City.
You can't help but be optimistic about Goshen when you listen to Kauffman talk about his city, its finances and the future.
Goshen residents have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to.