As Jeff Shore sees it, the prospect of a new reservoir traversing Madison and Delaware counties is just the ticket this town needs to shake off its economic doldrums.
"Twenty years ago you knew tomorrow would be better than today, and next year would be better than the last," said the town's longest-serving councilman. "But that hope's gone and now we're just treading water."
Shore believes the proposed Mounds Lake Reservoir will be a terrific opportunity for Daleville and Chesterfield, which along with the two county governments and the city of Anderson will play a big part in the next month in determining if the concept will move to the next phase of study.
"So far, I see no reason not to vote for it," he said.
Shore joined an audience of several hundred dominated by Daleville and Delaware County residents at Daleville High School on Tuesday night for the second of three public explanations of the Mounds Lake project.
From its dam head just west of Scatterfield Road in Anderson, the reservoir would back water up seven miles to Delaware County Road 300 South and encompass 2,100 acres, The Herald Bulletin reported.
According to preliminary estimates from Rob Sparks, executive director of the Anderson/Madison County Corp. for Economic Development, the project would cost between $300 million and $400 million to build. Its primary purpose would be to supplement the Indianapolis metropolitan area's water needs. Long-term demand for water in central Indiana is a concern of local utitlies.
Although she wasn't sure what the overall feelings of support or opposition to the project were in the high school gymnasium, Shareen Wagley of Muncie is a project supporter. She worked with several groups that support the White River and has worked on a number of cleanup projects over the past dozen years.
"I think if done right, this can enhance the water quality of the White River," she said.
Non-tidal wetlands contemplated as part of the project upstream could help capture nutrients and pollutants from farm and development runoff. And the project could help control flooding that regularly occurs downstream.
Many of the environmental concerns people have raised about landfills, runoff and the loss of trees and wildlife habitat through that section of White River are concerns that Kim Rogers shares as a member of White River Watchers. Rogers and Anderson real estate agent Jim Bittner joined Sparks; Chad Pigg, president and CEO of SESCO Group, an environmental consulting firm; and Jonathan LaTurner of DLZ Engineering on the panel.
While she's officially neutral on the project as a whole, Rogers said she would like to see a phase two study.
Bittner said there's no question many people would be affected by the proposed lake, but it could help rejuvenate Anderson and the Scatterfield business corridor.