The Herald Bulletin

April 6, 2013

Public access and outdoor recreation key to reservoir plan

Lake would fill local tourism need

By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — People flock to water, and proponents of Mounds Lake Reservoir want to make certain its shores don’t become the exclusive province of wealthy landowners.

To be sure, planners expect tony residential neighborhoods will develop around the reservoir.

But with public input and careful planning, expensive private homes won’t dominate the lakefront as they do at Geist Reservoir in Marion County, or Morse in Hamilton, said Allan Henderson, planning manager for the Madison County Council of Governments (COG).

“A lot of peoples’ concern is that this is just an opportunity for some people to make money,” said Henderson. “That’s not at all what we want. We want the public to have access to this amenity.”

The council helped develop an initial feasibility study for the 2,100-acre Mounds Lake Reservoir, which would begin just east of East Lynn and 18th streets in Anderson and back water up seven miles into Delaware County to around County Road 300 South and South High Banks Road.

According to an inventory prepared by COG, recreational opportunities at Mounds State Park, as well as smaller municipal parks in Chesterfield and Daleville, could be expanded to include beaches, boat launches, an extensive trail system, wildlife conservation areas, and both passive and active recreation zones.

These are the kind of outdoor recreation attractions that can fuel tourism.

And outdoor recreation is big business.

Nationally, it generates $664 billion in consumer spending, nearly $40 billion in federal tax revenue, a like amount in state tax revenue, and 6.1 million direct jobs, according to a recent study by the Outdoor Industry Association.

In Indiana, outdoor recreation generates $9.4 billion in consumer spending, $2.7 billion in wages and salaries, $705 million in state and local taxes, and creates 106,000 jobs, according to the association.

Henderson said he understands the cynicism and skepticism that some people have about the project.

“As a planner you tend to be a little idealistic,” he said, but “if we get the public to take ownership, this could be an outstanding project.”

After a briefing about the project, the Anderson Madison County Visitors Bureau released a statement supporting the concept, saying it “should be further explored with a second phase feasibility study that would help determine the project’s viability and expected community and economic impact.”

Tom Bannon, executive director of the bureau, said it’s far too early in the development of Mounds Lake to estimate with any clarity the economic value that might be generated.

“It would provide an attraction we don’t now have and fits a real need for us,” Bannon said.

Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.