Boon or boondoggle?
To some, the proposed Mounds Lake Reservoir is a potential game-changer that could burnish Anderson’s image while elevating property values, generating commerce and boosting community morale.
To others, it would be a colossal waste of money and time that would displace hundreds of home owners and dozens of businesses while scarring the community by wiping out a swath of its infrastructure and drowning long-standing neighborhoods.
Detractors call the idea stupid, silly, a pipe dream. They suspect that it would benefit a wealthy few while meaning virtually nothing, except perhaps a higher tax rate, to the vast majority of the people in the community.
Proponents of the concept call it intriguing, creative thinking that could usher in a new age for Madison County.
While the naysayers make salient points that raise important concerns, the Mounds Lake Reservoir proposal carries the potential promise of a brighter future for Anderson and Madison County.
And that’s just what the community needs, large-scale change to shake off the stubborn doldrums of the post-automotive manufacturing era. We need to dream big, to think big, to imagine the possibilities that could spring from local resources like the White River, which would be the source of the reservoir.
To recount, about $270,000 in public and private funds have been spent to study the possibility of creating the reservoir along a seven-mile stretch of the river, meandering from the Mounds Mall area in Anderson, through Chesterfield and Daleville and into rural southwestern Delaware County.
The projected cost of the project is $350 million. Rob Sparks of the Madison County Corporation for Economic Development has spearheaded the study. He says that the reservoir could be completed as early as 2020. To get there, the project would have to be supported by at least five local government units and would have to endure a gauntlet of scrutiny from state and federal agencies.
The next step will be public meetings — not yet scheduled — in Anderson, Chesterfield, Daleville and Delaware County. Preliminary plans for the reservoir will be discussed and citizen concerns addressed.
Given the complexity of planning and creating the reservoir, the need for financial support from a major investor or investors, and the degree of uncertainty about environmental, human and economic development impact, the project still seems at this early stage like something of a long shot.
But it’s more than just a pipe dream. It’s a promising vision of a project that could indeed put Madison County on the map as an attractive tourist destination for sportsmen, nature lovers and exercise enthusiasts, as well as creating a new, attractive housing market, helping to draw retail and service businesses and expand entertainment offerings.
With careful, thorough study, planning, implementation and execution, the reservoir could be just what Anderson needs, while providing a dependable source of water for the Anderson-Indianapolis area.
Boon or boondoggle?
At this point, chances of the Mounds Lake Reservoir project being the first outweigh concerns about it being the latter.
While naysayers make salient points that raise important concerns, the Mounds Lake Reservoir proposal carries the potential promise of a brighter future for Anderson and Madison County.