Our disappearing and dishonored memorials

The proposed elimination of a large portion Mounds State Park for an unneeded “water supply” reservoir brings to mind a poignant excerpt from Long Knife– The story of a great American hero, George Rogers Clark by Hoosier historical novelist James Alexander Thom.  In his Author’s Note at the end of the novel, Thom recounts his visit to the monument on the bank of the Ohio River which marks the location of Clark’s home.  As he searched for the monument, he spoke with several residents of the area who had no idea what he was talking about.
“A succession of such encounters followed as I drove among shopping centers, roller rinks, mobile home parks, chain restaurants, discount stores, and ice cream shops where men and women with listless eyes and overstuffed shorts waited in line to be served.  … The stone marker stood across the street from a row of modest residences.  The evening was full of the snarling racket from a chain saw somewhere nearby.  The words on the monuments bronze plaque were dwarfed the spray-painted declaration, “I hate Debbi.”… The air was dirty. Upriver and downriver, great steel bridges spanned the Ohio. Smokestacks jutted into the horizon.  High tension wires spanned the river, lie a string of Eiffel Towers. There was no Falls of the Ohio anymore, not any Corn Island; locks and dams and erosion, I knew, had smoothed them out many decades ago.  … The roadside was strewn with empty beer six-packs.  Traffic droned and whispered by; spillways of the hydroelectric plant across the river hissed and hushed.  Rock music was coming from somewhere.”
Would this be the ultimate fate of Mounds State Park, the White River, and the wider area surrounding the planned reservoir?  If this misguided (and misrepresented) economic development strategy is approved, probably so. There would be limited political will to protect the Park and its environs from the unbridled commercialism and unplanned urbanization which befell the site of Clark’s former home and many other sites of our early Territorial and State history.
(ironically, Thom also notes that: “Still another story could be told of George Rogers Clark the naturalist and archeologist.  He was the first to advance the now accepted theory of the origins of the Mound Builders civilization.  And John James Audubon sought him out as the authority on bird species in the West).

Is the CED a “never-say-die” developer?

The Anderson Herald Bulletin’s 2-24-15 editorial about the reservoir plan should have also referenced the “never-say-die” developer dynamic, a stunning example of which — The Mallard Lake landfill proposal — was reported by the HB on February 22nd.

As reported, the landfill project was pushed by the developer for 37 years until finally withdrawing its IDEM renewal application for the unused permit. For the citizens who had the grit and tenacity to continuously fight that war, the battles dragged on interminably and at high cost to their personal and family well-being. The unrelenting push by  commercial developers can aptly be called the “never-say-die” dynamic.
The Anderson Corporation for Economic Development has indicated that there is need for more detailed study of certain questions (“phase III feasibility”) as if to suggest that it has not actually determined to press ahead with the plan. That seems disingenuous considering, among other things, its stated intent to persuade local officials to create a governing commission in the near future.
The CED certainly seems resolute. Time will tell if it is also “never-say-die”. Hopefully it won’t require 37 years of regulatory and legal process to persuade authorities to reject this unneeded and destructive project.

Proposed Mallard Lake landfill near Killbuck Creek in Anderson finally withdrawn– after 37 year battle!

​Yesterday the Associated Press reported that the proposed Mallard Lake Landfill has finally been withdrawn after a citizen-led battle extending over 37 years.
Congratulations and appreciation to the Killbuck Concerned Citizens Association for this exceptionally hard- and long-fought battle.
I’m reminded of Justice Felix Frankfurter’s memorable quote:
“Democracy involves hardship – the hardship of the unceasing responsibility of every citizen. Where the entire people do not take a continuous and considered part in public life, there can be no democracy in any meaningful sense of the term. Democracy is always a beckoning goal, not a safe harbour. For freedom is an unremitting endeavour, never a final achievement. That is why no office in the land is more important than that of being a citizen”.
Felix Frankfurter, The Public and its Government (1930):
Here’s the AP report–

http://www.ibj.com/articles/51929-developer-gives-up-37-year-fight-for-landfill-near-anderson

Developer gives up 37-year fight for landfill near Anderson

February 23, 2015
Developers who fought for 37 years to build a landfill near a lake and an elementary school have dropped their efforts for good.Bex Farms Inc. and its affiliate, 600 Land Inc., have withdrawn their application to renew the landfill permit for a 13-acre site near Mallard Lake and Killbuck Elementary School, The Herald Bulletin reported Sunday.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management said the application was withdrawn last week.

Activists have fought the proposed landfill since 1979, claiming the project would hurt the region’s economy and environment. The Killbuck Concerned Citizens Association battled the project in administrative, trial and appeals courts, zoning hearings, the Legislature and other venues. The city of Anderson also opposed the landfill.

Their hopes waned in 2010 when landowner and developer JM Corp. obtained the permit for the landfill. After JM Corp. founder Ralph Reed died in 2012, Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Bex Farms Inc. purchased a 254-acre parcel containing the landfill site for $1.125 million, Madison County records show.

However, Bex Farms didn’t intend to use the site as a landfill, spokesman Andy Drummond maintained. The company owns landfills in Greensburg, Indianapolis and Modoc.

Drummond said it was “highly unlikely” the property would be used as a landfill, so it was not in the company’s best interest to commit “significant resources that would be necessary to renew the permit.”

The property has never been used as a landfill, according to the parcel’s former owners and legal documents.

Landfill opponent Bill Kutschera of the Killbuck Concerned Citizens Association says the landfill is now just “an ugly memory.”

“It is final and IDEM has advised that current regulations would make any new application for a landfill permit at this location virtually impossible to gain approval,” Kutschera said in an email.

The property has been converted back to farmland.

Doug Berky’s letter to Muncie Star Press, published 2-20-15

False assumptions in reservoir report

DOUG BERKY

Anderson

After reading the executive summary of the Mounds Lake Phase II Feasibility study, my first thought was to re-read an essay by Wendell Berry, “The Way Of Ignorance.”

This proposal makes numerous false assumptions. First, it assumes that we, as a species, exist outside of the natural environment of our planet. Climate change threatens our world because of the kind of environmental destruction that is called for to build this lake. It is the height of arrogance and hypocrisy that the Anderson Corporation for Economic Development proposes to create a commission that can “mitigate’ in a few years what God has taken thousands to create.

This proposal falsely assume a water need. Furthermore, creation of a reservoir chances polluting our abundant groundwater and aquifers.

The ACED falsely proclaims overwhelming community support. Surveys and polls often quoted in their materials are unscientific and biased. Throughout the process the ACED has proven itself untrustworthy.

The proposal falsely suggests no tax dollars will be needed to fund this project. Already, more than one half a million tax dollars has been spent. Who will be paying the people forming the commission? Taxpayers? Where will they meet? Who is paying the heat? Who will be liable when the lawsuits start rolling in?

Elected officials, do take a long hard look at this before you vote.

Indiana Parks Alliance Resolution, dated 2-20-15

“The Indiana Parks Alliance opposes the construction of a dam and reservoir on the White River at Anderson, Indiana known as the Mounds Lake project.

The proposed Mounds Reservoir would inundate approximately 1/3 of Mounds State Park, including the Mounds Fen State Nature Preserve in its entirety.  These are significant and unique natural areas which cannot truly be mitigated.  The proposed reservoir would also threaten the nationally significant Anderson Mounds, a National Register archeological site that was of ceremonial and ritual significance to Native Americans.

The Indiana Parks Alliance believes that our state parks and nature preserves deserve the strongest protection.  The state law that established the system of dedicated state nature preserves states that the properties “are to be held in trust for the benefit of the people of Indiana of present and future generations,” and are only to be taken for other public uses if there is an “imperative and unavoidable necessity.”  It is the belief of IPA that destruction of this dedicated state nature preserve would undermine this law, and imperil all state nature preserves.”

 

 

Panel presentation scheduled for February 26th in Yorktown

Another panel of experts will discuss the reservoir plan on Thursday, February 26th at the Yorktown High School auditorium, 1100 South Tiger Drive, starting at 7:00 p.m.

The panel will include Dr. Rae Schnapp, Wabash RIverkeeper, Pat Manship, Madison County Surveyor, Lee Casebere, DNR Director of Nature Preserves (retired), Tom Hohman, DNR engineer (retired), and Tony Fleming, hydrogeologist.
The event is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Madison-Delaware counties, the Robert Cooper Audubon Society, the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, and the Heart of the River coalition.
This will be the third in the series of panel presentations and community forums sponsored by the Heart of the River coalition and its partners.


Kevin Tungesvick’s February 3rd open letter to Rob Sparks of the ACED

Dear Rob,

It has been nearly 2 years since the Mounds Reservoir proposal was leaked to the public. In that time, it has been repackaged from its original intent as a recreational lake and economic development proposal to a water supply project in a cynical attempt to increase its chances of being permitted. In spite of the fact that no major water utility supports it or believes the water will be needed in coming decades, you persist with this argument. While it is obvious that water conservation combined with incremental development of additional well fields is the most cost effective way to expand central Indiana’s water supply, you continue to claim that the reservoir is the most cost effective alternative by comparing it to other boondoggles that will never happen such as building a pipe to the Ohio River.

For nearly two years, the hardworking people of Irondale and other affected neighborhoods have been tortured by the uncertainty of whether the homes where they have lived for their entire lives will be taken. Vicious rumors have been started that the proposal is a “done deal” or “gonna happen”. The lack of professionalism that has characterized the promotion of this project began the day you naively accepted the absurd assertion of no “fatal flaws” from a consultant with a financial interest in performing the more detailed and more lucrative later phases. You have consistently failed to get second opinions from environmental and economic professionals on the viability of this project. To this day, those opinions have only been made available through the panel discussions sponsored by The Heart of the River Coalition.

Further, you continue to claim that the project is environmentally feasible in spite of very skeptical letters from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, two of the agencies that would be deeply involved in the permitting process. Finally, you continue to publicize the absurdly low price tag of $ 450 million when expert after expert contends this is a billion dollar project. Are we really expected to believe that you can move all of the existing water and sewer infrastructure, remediate the dump sites, replace several major highway bridges, acquire the land, demolish the existing structures, build the dam and mitigate the environmental impacts for $450.00 million dollars?

Rob, it took the perfect storm of arrogance, ignorance and naivety to assume you could inflict the most environmentally destructive project proposed in decades in central Indiana on its citizens. Arrogance that a small group of people with a financial interest in the project should decide what is best for the community. Ignorance of the tremendous asset the existing corridor represents to all of east central Indiana. Naivety to believe you could force this project past the regulatory agencies and more importantly, the people of Indiana.

The White River, Mounds State Park, and Mounds Fen Nature Preserve do not belong to the individuals with a vested interest in this project. They do not belong to the city of Anderson. Nor do they belong to the current generation of Hoosiers. Rather, they are held in trust for all future generations. It is our obligation to pass them on undiminished in beauty, diversity and ecological function. Opposition to this proposal will continue to grow as more citizens become aware of the massive destruction to our communities, infrastructure, and recreational properties. It is time to quit threatening the best remaining natural areas in east central Indiana. It is time to quit inflicting the pain and suffering of uncertainty on the affected homeowners. It is time to admit this project is neither feasible nor desirable.

Rob, we have given you the perfect out with our alternative Mounds Greenway proposal. It is time to abandon this divisive reservoir proposal that will never happen and unite our community behind the greenway.

Sincerely,

Kevin Tungesvick

Please share if you agree this destructive proposal should be withdrawn.