A trio of recent public information meetings about the proposed Mounds Lake Reservoir were notable for robust attendance and for a generally favorable response from audience members to the preliminary plans.
That’s significant, given that construction of the reservoir would cost an estimated $300 million to $350 million and would include the use of taxpayer money. The project would also put a residential and retail area of Anderson underwater, displacing an estimated 400 homes and dozens of businesses. And there’s also the general tendency of people to oppose extreme change.
So the apparent public support for deeper study of the project is encouraging.
Now, of course, there are detractors. Some, such as Leesa Bevelhimer, believe the reservoir would destroy a scenic stretch of White River.
“They are going to flood the most beautiful stretch of the river,” Bevelhimer said at the last of the three meetings, conducted Tuesday at Anderson University’s Reardon Auditorium. She noted that some of the trees that would be drowned along the river are as old as 400 years.
There are dozens of other concerns, as well, such as whether the lake would be a pristine recreation destination, or a murky, unattractive body of water. Among the most important questions is whether the presence of the reservoir would drive property values up.
The reservoir would be a much-needed water source for the Indianapolis area and would stretch across 2,000 acres from Anderson into western Delaware County. According to the plan developed by Madison County Corporation for Economic Development Director Rob Sparks, the project could be completed as early as 2020.
After going public with preliminary plans for the reservoir, Sparks and other supporters of the plan will approach local government units for approval to move forward with the second phase of the plan, which will cost about $300,000. The first of those efforts will take place at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Chesterfield Town Council at 7 p.m. Monday in the town hall.
It’s still too early to tell whether the reservoir plan is right for Anderson, Chesterfield, Daleville and other portions of Madison and Delaware counties that would be affected. But the idea holds promise to make the area more attractive to new residents and businesses.
Let’s see where it goes from here.