Merritt Lehman • The Good of Goshen

Merritt Lehman

Resident, Millrace Cohousing

Published Sept. 2020

I got involved in it in 2014 after reading about it in The Elkhart Truth on two or three occasions, just the updates on what was happening here in Goshen through the Redevelopment Commission as far as having a cohousing community here. We moved in just before Christmas at the end of 2018.

The idea intrigued us because we – like quite a few of our members – are older. We had a home that we had built in Elkhart in 1983. It was a nice home on an acre of land. My wife took care of a lot of the outdoor gardens and, with declining abilities when you get older, she was no longer able to take care of all that. So we started thinking about, ‘What is the next step?’ The idea of living in downtown Goshen – we’re pretty familiar with the community, having come to First Fridays and various other activities – we thought this would be a nice location with a smaller home and with very small lots. We can have some outdoor gardens and so forth and lawns, but not too much. We thought it would be an appropriate next step.

Millrace Cohousing is a small development. We are a homeowners association that is essentially developing it ourselves. We’re 15 lots on 2.7 acres, roughly. It’s a Planned Unit Development.

Another term for how we’re set up is called ‘pocket neighborhood.’ The fronts of all of our homes face inward toward the middle. We have sidewalks that will go down in front of each of our homes. We’ve agreed in our association plan that everybody will have a front porch. We take care of our own common areas. We’ll have a common garden. We’ve got a compost bin we share. There’s potential for a common house on the last lot available along the race. It would be a place to congregate.

It has been a good location, a good move for us. I’m a bicyclist, so I like the access here to the trails. It’s nice to be close to the downtown, close to shopping, close to the Maple City Market, the library, and other activities. The idea of having a close community, close-knit neighbors, is good. We work together. Many of us here have been involved four or five years in the planning. We’ve gotten to know one another.

Writing, editing, and photography by Scott Weisser and Neil King

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