Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Business

May 25, 2014

Municipal fantasies you may have missed

Hoosier mayors and their city councils are beleaguered by fiscal crises set upon them by Indiana’s legislature. Some mayors take up the challenge, working hard to trim expenditures, doing as little harm as possible to the public’s welfare. Other mayors invest in fantasies.

Two such fantasies, notable for their inventiveness, are being pressed upon the public in Anderson and Logansport.

First is the proposal to flood parts of Anderson and Mounds State Park by damming the White River. This proposal, as I understand it, has received $600,000 from the state of Indiana for a study of its benefits and costs.

The proposal was initiated by the economic development folks in Anderson. They envision a recreational and housing bonanza for the reservoir and its surrounding area that would rival the Geist development in Marion and Hamilton counties.

Presumably, wealthy persons would move into luxurious homes on the banks of the reservoir, bring new high tech businesses to Anderson, and share the new lake with recreation-starved visitors from afar. In time, the reservoir would also provide water for the expanding central Indiana metropolitan area. If properly conducted, the study should tell us how much of all this can come to fruition and at what cost to whom.

A group of notables, the “Upper White River Watershed Alliance,” has endorsed the study while carefully taking no explicit position on the virtue of the project. Another group, composed of homeowners, farmers, park users and interested citizens, has formed “Heart of the River” to oppose the reservoir.

Would the federal government fund this project? Is it somehow in the national interest to develop high-end homes and added recreational facilities between Anderson and Muncie? What are the environmental and historical costs of using this site for a reservoir?

Who stands to benefit from this project? Is this something Citizens Water (an Indianapolis public charitable trust) sees as a public good or is it part of the imperial designs of that agency?

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