I am excited to present to the Goshen City Council an idea that has been in the works for several months with City staff, the Mayor’s Environmental Advisory Committee (MEAC) and other members of the community. With the backing of those mentioned, we are now ready to ask for your support to create a Department of Environmental Resilience.
For many years Goshen has been a leading community, not because we have all the answers but because we are bold and have the foresight to take the long view. We now need to find additional ways to better our physical environment and make our budgets more efficient. Our budget lines for energy continue to rise; we currently spend nearly $875,000 a year on energy expenses.
We have learned that the quality-of-life projects that used to be considered luxuries are now essential building blocks for economic development. Many of these projects also help the environment as we build bike and pedestrian paths and offer more activities nearby so our residents do not have to drive far for entertainment. Green projects use to be hard to justify in our budgets; now they are saving us money in the long run and they are also becoming the next piece of economic development. Green communities are attracting both residents and businesses.
Goshen has become a leader in green initiatives, and the City has been recognized for our work. In 2017 Goshen received the Indiana Community of the Year award and the SolSmart Gold Level designation. in 2018 we received the Green Project of the Year award, and City Forester Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley was the recipient of the Gold Leaf award. This year I was invited to be the keynote speaker for the Indiana University Environmental Law Summit.
We can continue to be leaders by creating a department that brings all our green efforts front and center. We can create a new space that allows us to push forward on a much more consistent and informed basis, instead of waiting to work on projects when we have time.