Ninth St. corridor plans due shortly

The final report and recommendations for the Ninth Street corridor in Goshen should be ready sometime next month, and city officials are already doing preliminary work on plans to spruce up the old industrial area.

Posted on April 30, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — After a lengthy process involving everyone from local residents and businessmen to federal officials, the plans for Goshen’s Ninth Street corridor should be finalized and become public soon.

“The plan will be unveiled in a few weeks,” said Becky Hershberger, brownfields coordinator for Goshen.

It’ll be a lengthy, in-depth document, said Hershberger, but it’s only the start.

The plan is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a pilot program to try to bring together various agencies to help local communities reinvigorate aging parts of their cities. After months of planning, involving a large committee of local folks and various public meetings, Hershberger is working with the EPA to put the finishing touches on the document.

“The good thing about it is it’s solidified the ideas” about what to do to help the businesses and residents along the Ninth-Street railroad tracks between downtown and Goshen College, Hershberger said.

“There are lots of funding sources out there, but there’s a lot of gray area in between,” she said.

Many grants require solid plans before they’re awarded, so the city will be moving into the realm of trying to provide concrete plans that could win funding.

“The planning grant doesn’t take you straight through to being able to get the funds,” said Hershberger.

The first step is already in the design phases, Hershberger said.

City officials are working with the Michiana Area Council of Governments, the regional planning agency, to get approval to use transportation funds to build a bike path along Ninth Street.

That funding was approved for a traffic circle last year, but public outcry killed the idea and now the city hopes to use that money to take the first step toward upgrading the Ninth Street area.

“I think having that will help us build momentum,” said Hershberger.

The plans ultimately could mean better roads, sidewalks and sewers for residents and businesses in the area, and could possibly lead to railroad changes in the area, organizers said during the planning process. The city’s also planning to provide low-cost loans to businesses that would like to clean up their sites in the area.

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