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Central Indiana reservoir foes back river trails

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Environmental groups are proposing a system of trails to promote use of the White River in central Indiana rather than damming it for a possible seven-mile-long reservoir.

The Mounds Greenway proposed by the groups would connect parks and trail systems along the White River in Anderson and Muncie area and cost one-tenth of the estimated $450 million to create the Mounds Lake Reservoir, said Tim Maloney, senior policy director of the Hoosier Environmental Council.

Maloney said the greenway plan was a viable alternative to building a 2,100-acre lake that would flood part of Mounds State Park and woodlands along the river about 30 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

"It offers a lot to all of the communities in this region from a recreational, tourism and economic standpoint and protects a high-quality natural resource," Maloney said.

Reservoir supporters are holding a series of "Imagine Mounds Lake" public meetings this week in Anderson, Chesterfield, Daleville and Yorktown, along with displays at Mounds Mall in Anderson.

Project advocates say it would improve flood control, create prime real estate for waterfront housing and boost economic development in the Anderson area. The planned 50-foot-high earthen dam would create a lake slightly larger than Geist Reservoir on the northeast side of Indianapolis, which supporters say would help supplement central Indiana's water needs.

The reservoir plan include trails around the lake and one between Anderson and Muncie, said Rob Sparks, director of the Corporation for Economic Development Anderson/Madison County, which is pushing for the project.

Sparks said he hoped this week's meetings will help the public learn more about the lake plans.

"Certainly, when you flood 2,100 acres there's a lot of impact," he said. "We don't want to minimize that. We want people to come through and kind of experience that, talk about what they see and some of the benefits of the project, some of the challenges, and how they might be addressed."

Representatives of the Hoosier Environmental Council, Heart of the River and the Robert Cooper Audubon Society discussed their proposal during a news conference Monday at Canoe Country near Daleville.

Canoe Country owner Robbie Mixell said thousands of families and hundreds of school children have canoed on the White River for recreation and educational purposes.

"I would lose my business and home," he said. "People don't paddle on a reservoir."

An environmental study is being conducted on the reservoir plans, and Sparks said funding sources remain uncertain.

David Schulte, who owns several rental properties close to the proposed dam, said the reservoir was a necessary project.

"To me, it's going to be a boon for Madison County and for Anderson and the entire area," he said. "We're depressed and we need help. Yes, it's at a cost. Everything is."

The HEC said a greenway would save more than 2,000 acres of forests and wetlands while offering recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing and biking. It would also save several historic sites in Mounds State Park.

It would also address another key reason cited for a reservoir by providing another source of clean water in central Indiana.

"The Mounds Greenway project will protect clean water for Hoosiers by conserving critical floodplain forests that reduce sediment and other runoff entering the river," the HEC said in a written statement. "Protection and restoration of wetlands will help filter polluted runoff before it reaches the river, and also provide groundwater recharge areas that maintain a healthy aquifer and regional water supply."

Federal agencies have questioned plans for the reservoir because they fail to address alternatives.

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  • Geist
    There is a Geist story that should be told. Likely Star reporters from that timeframe have tales to tell. The IWC took the property through its power of eminent domain but it was the unregulated but related water company entity that made the profits from the land sales which has nothing to do with supplying water.
  • Let them drink craft beer.....
    This is more same-old, same-old from a new generation of non-progressive 'progressives and fear mongers. One only needs to look at the economic havoc being experienced in California to understand the effect of drought on economies and people's lives. The same mindset in California turned a blind eye to the growth of population and water needs in California, defeating proposal after proposal to build reservoirs, improve water storage and delivery infrastructure...and the price now being paid for putting the demands of a raucous minority ahead of the needs of many. Some people never, never learn..
  • Tea Party
    Where are the tea party, fiscal conservatives on this? Why no outrage over spending $450 million on a boondoggle? I have my thoughts, but I'll keep them to myself.
  • Alternative proposal is dumb...
    Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.
  • government again
    Wonder who has a hand in the till here???
  • Anderson is not Geist
    The comparison of a reservoir in Anderson to Geist is laughable. To think that people are going to pay Geist comparable prices for land and homes around a reservoir in Anderson is just silly. Morse doesn't fetch the Geist prices and it's closer to commuting distance than Anderson can ever hope to be. The level of education, quality of schools and workforce just is not there to support wealthy, educated workers with high income jobs. And that is who they believe they will be attracting? Is Anderson going to be a vacation destination? Because, if not, there are far too many places that are much more suited to attract a high-income workforce with exsiting amenities and homes much closer to the metro. How does this really benefit Madison County and their economic development? They need education for their workforce and an economic development plan that brings JOBS. People without JOBS do not buy and care for homes, especially not upscale homes on a reservoir. Last time I drove through Anderson - most of it looks like rubbish. Know who you are Anderson. Your workforce is former manufacturing. Give them some higher level technical skills and bring in manufacturers and logistics companies that can take on your unemployed population.
  • And polluted by a landfill, too?
    The reservoir proponents have either chosen to ignore, or are ignorant of the fact, that a landfill will soon begin operation adjacent to a major stream which flows into the White River between the location of the proposed dam which will create the reservoir and Indianapolis. The revenue stream (you'll excuse the expression) the reservoir developers think they'll get from Indy might just be slightly impacted by the capital city's lack of desire to drink polluted water. Facts don't seem to prevent some people from believing what they so desperately want to be true.
  • Hoosier Papa's on to something!
    You are right sir, on Geist. They knew that there would be some pushback, so they had a 60 (or so) year moratorium on reselling certain parcels. I'm all for eminent domain when it comes to hospitals, roadways and such (within reason) but not in cases like this. The only way that I would be in favor of stealing land, so others can resell it at super high values is to allow the original property owners to share in the wealth. If developers balk - then you know it's "a steal from the poor, to give to the rich" sort of thing.
  • Best of both worlds?
    How about merging the two ideas. Restrict the lake to the stretch between Mounds State Park and the proposed dam site. You get a large lake with economic development while preserving the river upstream.
  • HEC is never happy
    The proposed reservoir would be fantastic at 10 times the cost of another trail system. Also at 10 times the cost would be reinvestment, and new economic and recreational opportunities, which the trail would not bring. This is not a Monon or Cultural trail, just another riverside trail prone to flooding and will lack any real funding of maintenance and upkeep. A new reservoir will expand upon a depressed local economy and bring real excitement and destination to the area. Build it and flood it, we need the water and it's benefits.
  • Res Ipsa Loquitur
    As Morton Marcus stated so bluntly at a conference on the reservoir about 60 days ago, Madison County has nothing to offer in the way of an educated labor force or a good school system, so putting a big hole in the ground and filling it with water is not going to attract homeowners to locate to Anderson and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home on the water (I'm paraphrasing but that was the gist of his message). He suggested that Anderson should take the money that they would spend on the reservoir and invest in educating workers and improving their schools - but that's not as sexy as a new reservoir. And let's stop calling it a "regional water supply" and start calling it what it is - which is going to be Citizens' exclusive water supply since they're the only utility that has surface water treatment plants. So let's start calling it Citizens' reservoir so that we can get the players straight. And let's start demanding that the "stakeholders" analyze WHAT the cost will be to Madison and Delaware Counties to provide Citizens with water for its Indianapolis customers and start telling us WHO will be making the money off of selling Madison and Delaware Counties' water to Citizens.
    • Bait and Switch Land Boondoggle
      If the IBJ were doing its job, it would relate this story to the Geist Reservoir fiasco where farmer's land was taken by eminent domain by well schooled public trust figures and who knew full well the value of the land after the reservoir was filled and lined their pockets while the farmers sat twiddling their thumbs remember their father's taught them to never trust a man in a suit. So IBJ, follow the money on this well worn path......

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