Foes of central Indiana reservoir plan urge end to proposal

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Opponents of a proposed central Indiana reservoir are urging an economic development group to abandon its push for the $450 million project.

Environmental groups held a news conference Friday at Mounds State Park to discuss concerns they said were raised in a state-funded feasibility study about the proposed 2,100-acre Mounds Lake Reservoir, which would run from Anderson to Yorktown. The groups have formed a coalition headed by Heart of the River.

The group pushing the reservoir idea — the Corporation for Economic Development of Anderson and Madison County — should withdraw a proposed ordinance that would create a 12-member Mounds Lake Commission, said Heart of the River spokeswoman Marian Osborne Berky. That panel would include elected officials from Madison and Delaware counties, Anderson, Chesterfield, Daleville and Yorktown, The Herald Bulletin reported.

"We want all consideration of this project be abandoned," Berky said.

The reservoir would be created by damming the White River in Anderson and flooding an area that would include Anderson's Mounds Mall, about 400 homes and part of Mounds State Park, which is the site of earthen mounds built more than 2,000 years ago by the Adena-Hopewell people.

Rob Sparks, executive director of the Corporation for Economic Development, said the commission is needed to evaluate the proposal and determine what's best for the community.

"It's better done with the leadership of the community," he said. "Any belief that formation of the commission is an approval of the project would be premature."

So far, no local government entity has formally considered a proposed ordinance to create the commission.

Supporters of the proposed reservoir have said it would be funded through the sale of water to municipalities, but Berky said it's unlikely that buyers for that water would be found.

Jeff Stant, executive director of the Indiana Forest Alliance, said the project would destroy about 1,000 acres of old growth forested land, particularly along the banks of the White River at Mounds State Park.

Tim Maloney, the Hoosier Environmental Council's senior policy director, said the environmental group's proposal for a trail system extending from Anderson to Muncie would cost between $15 million and $40 million. And he said state and federal grants are available to fund such trail projects.

"This would be a stark contrast to a reservoir," Maloney said. "It would protect natural resources and not destroy them."

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