The Herald Bulletin

February 24, 2014

Mounds Lake decision approaching

Current study looking at community impact of proposed reservoir

By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin

EDGEWOOD, Ind. — Decisions on whether plans for the proposed Mounds Lake reservoir move forward will have to be made in the near future.

Rob Sparks, who is heading up the effort for the development of the reservoir that would extend from Anderson into Delaware County, told the Anderson Noon Exchange Club last week at The Edge that the Phase II environmental study is underway.

“We’re coming to the T-road this summer,” Sparks said. “Do we proceed or not go forward?”

The Phase II study includes soil borings, soil type, looking for contaminated site and pre-existing uses. Sparks said it will include water quality along with a financial model and community impact.

The study is being funded through a $600,000 state grant.

Community meetings are expected to take place in April or May to discuss the results of the Phase II study, he said.

As proposed, the dam would be located near the Mounds Mall site, which is a natural basin for the pooling of water. The estimated cost has been set at $400 million.

If the project moves forward, Sparks said, more than 1 million square feet of retail space, 300 manufactured homes and 100 homes will have to be purchased.

“The sooner we come to a conclusion — yes or no — the better it will be for the impacted property owners,” he said.

Sparks said if the project progresses, appraisals will be made of all the property to be purchased. He said the property owners will be offered the average of several appraisals.

Responding to a question, Sparks said federal and state funding will be sought to maintain 80 percent reserves of the water in the reservoir. He said 20 percent will be available for sale.

Sparks said a pipe will transport water from the dam area to a central pickup point to send water to neighboring cities, such as Indianapolis and Noblesville.

“There is interest from several counties away in the water,” he said.

Over the past few decades the Anderson area has lost billions of dollars that were part of the payroll for the city’s two General Motors plants.

“All the efforts over the past decade have recovered 10 percent of that loss,” Sparks said. “This is a unique opportunity. It can stabilize property values and make the area a destination for tourists.”

He said that unlike the Geist Reservoir, where property around the lake is owned by private individuals, the Mounds Lake reservoir will have public spaces.

Possible uses include parks, a trail system and a mountain bike course. Sparks said local zoning ordinances will be utilized to control the land use around the lake.

“How do we attract more people to Madison County?” Sparks asked.

He said Anderson attracts people to the Paramount Theatre, Anderson Speedway, Hoosier Park, and the nearby Gaither Family Resources. The intent is to build on those destinations by bringing people to the community.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.