GOSHEN — It’s not as much as they were hoping for, but members of the Elkhart River Restoration Association were able to secure a $325,000 contribution for a major project at Goshen Dam Pond.
The ERRA met with the Elkhart County Stormwater Management Board on Monday, Dec. 23, for the second time to request funding for a $2 million dredging project. The ERRA plans to remove sediment that has built up at the bottom of the pond to restore the body of water as a healthy habitat for wildlife and a recreational destination for boaters, fishermen and kayakers.
Members of the ERRA had originally asked the stormwater board for $750,000 in October and lowered the request to $650,000 on Monday. The board agreed to commit $325,000 from the county’s stormwater fees to the project and asked the ERRA members to report back at a later meeting to show what other support they have gotten for the project.
ERRA president David Troup told stormwater board members that the organization formed about 30 years ago and has been working ever since to improve water quality in the Elkhart River and its watershed.
Troup and ERRA board member Bill Rieth shared letters of support for the project with the stormwater board from the Elkhart County Park Department, Goshen Parks and Recreation Department and the St. Joseph River Basin Commission. Others spoke to the county officials in person including local fishermen, conservationists and Luke Gascho, executive director of Goshen College’s Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center. Gascho said students use Goshen Dam Pond as an outdoor classroom where they learn about the watershed, conservation and sustainability.
Monday’s stormwater board meeting was the first stop of many to secure funding for the pond project. The ERRA is exploring other potential funding sources including grants from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Elkhart County Community Foundation as well as contributions from the city of Goshen and the 75 homeowners who live around the pond.