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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Goshen’s Dickerson Landing neighborhood to get help

The Historic Dickerson Landing neighborhood, one of the city's earliest neighborhoods, will get some attention over the next few years.
Justin Leighty
Posted on Nov. 29, 2011 at 12:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — One of Goshen’s original neighborhoods is the next area of the city targeted for a face lift.

The Historic Dickerson Landing Neighborhood, north of Pike Street and east of the Elkhart River, will get new water and sewer lines, new sidewalks and new streets over the next few years, starting on North First Street.

“This is the part of Goshen that sawed the lumber to make the rest of Goshen out of,” said neighborhood resident and historian Tom Riggs. “I just think it’s neat that they’re doing something to benefit the neighborhood.”

It’s all hand-in-hand with the federal Community Development Block Grant program, which will fund roughly a third of the work. That program recently led to major upgrades on Crescent Street north of downtown, and before that it helped out the East Lincoln Crossroads area and the Mill Street area.

“We tend to pick a neighborhood and move in,” said Mary Cripe, city engineer.

The Dickerson Landing area has already seen some improvements with changes to the city’s sewer system over the last several years. Wilkinson Street and then First Street north of Wilkinson have been rebuilt. “We’ve already got a lot of stuff done through here, but what was done, it was done not for our convenience, it was done for the city’s convenience,” said Riggs.

Starting in the spring, an expanded alley will head north from the Post Office to Wilkinson, and once it’s done First Street will shut down between Pike and Wilkinson streets. That will allow the street to be torn up, new water lines to be installed, some sewer work to happen and a new street to be installed.

“We’ve had really good turnout with the neighborhood” in meetings with city officials, said Rhonda Yoder, CDBG coordinator for the city.

Yoder said the biggest parts of the project will be reconstructing Second and New Streets in the coming years. Cripe estimated the work will last for at least four years, depending on funding.

Dickerson’s Landing was the area on both sides of the river just north of present-day Pike Street, Riggs said. “A steamboat came there in 1834, docked there with 100 passengers.” Those passengers helped settle the new community, formed in 1831, and they debarked at what was the northwest boundary of the city.

“You could come here and claim a piece of land, but when you’d come here and claim a piece of land, you’d have to go by horseback to Fort Wayne or Winamac in Porter County. They didn’t want you claiming your land, getting on the boat and leaving,” Riggs said.

A sawmill in the neighborhood served the community and also shipped wood out for sale elsewhere, Riggs said.

The railroad, now a prominent feature in the neighborhood, didn’t come until 1852, according to Riggs.

Despite a long history, “the biggest problem with our neighborhood is like all the others. When it gets older and people die off, the houses sell. People buy them, chop them up and rent them out. Ninety-five percent of our neighborhood is rental properties,” Riggs said.

The neighborhood association’s web site even has a section with a gallery of fame and shame, showing off recent improvements to homes alongside sidewalks and homes needing attention.

The next few years should see some of those needed improvements come to the neighborhood, fixing what the neighborhood association termed “benign neglect” by city government.

“I’m excited,” Riggs said. “I like what I see.”

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