City of Goshen considering ordinance that could create environmental department within city

NOW: City of Goshen considering ordinance that could create environmental department within city

GOSHEN, Ind. -- In an effort to expand environmental efficiency and sustanability efforts, one Michiana community may soon create its own environmental department. 

Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman proposed the idea at a recent city council meeting. 

In a letter pitching the idea, Stutsman writes the Department for Environmental Resiliance would help the city accomplish its current environmental goals, like the 45% canopy project and reducing greenhouse gases, and implement new proposals. 

Right now, multiple departments in the city oversee those initiatives. 

Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley, the city forester, would head up the new department. A full-time assistant, who would write grants and support other departments, would also be hired. 

Sawatsky-Kingsley believes this is a good way to streamline the city’s efforts while also studying ways to enhance the environment so it benefits the town economically and socially in the future.

“The proposal for this department is to help study the ways in which we can enhance our environment to play that role, the resiliancy roles, that also enhance our economy,” said Sawatsky-Kingsley. “The department will help us to look at the efficiencies in our government, in our local government, in the way our buildings, in the way our fleets operate, the way that we manage our energy use. We will work at environmental education.”  

If approved, Goshen would become the second city in Michiana to do so. 

The City of South Bend created a sustainability department in 2009. 

“By creating a department that is dedicated to looking at these issues, we can bring a better focus onto onto the importance of the work and how to line it out through the city that is most effective as well as bringing in some new aspects of that work,” said Sawatsky-Kingsley. 

An estimated $600,000, of which $230,000 would be new money, would be needed to fund the department. 

Stutsman is proposing that the new money come from the city’s interest accounty. 

Sawatsky-Kingsley believes the immediate investment would pay off in the years ahead. 

“My intention, with this department, is to focus on the research that exisits around us and that we can do right here,” said Sawatsky-Kingsley. “Work directly with people, to communicate, to take in ideas, to collaborate to understand what it is they see as needs. Slowly, steadily continue to build the case that, ‘Yeah this stuff matters to us.’ We need this stuff for our own economic stability, our own social fabric.” 

To read more on the proposal, click here

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