Sunday, November 23, 2014

Voters get a chance to decide center’s future

Posted on Jan. 24, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

Civic leaders asked the Goshen City Council to approve a special referendum on a proposed $35.5 million community center.

Three Republicans councilors opposed it. Three Democrats supported it.

The vote came down to a newcomer, Republican Brett Weddell.

Weddell, 36, ran for the council and lost in 2011 to Everett Thomas, a five-term Democrat. When veteran Tom Stump left the council at the beginning of this year for the Elkhart County Council, a Republican caucus selected Weddell to succeed Stump.

Now he faced his first big vote as a councilor. Vote no and the measure died. Vote yes and the public decided things at the polls May 7.

Weddell voted yes.

Opponents worry about the $35.5 million cost of the community center. They fear that the city will need to impose tax hikes to pay it, and they argue that it will cut into the business of private gyms and fitness centers.

Proponents say that it will improve the community’s health, bring people together in a central place and help Goshen attract new employers.

Both sides make compelling arguments. Goshen voters need to see the data, ask questions and engage one another in debate.

It’s their money and their city. Whether they support a new community center or oppose it, they deserve to make the decision themselves.

Thanks to Brett Weddell, they’ll get the chance.