The Herald Bulletin

March 15, 2014

Ken de la Bastide: Saving Wigwam faces critical June deadline

By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin

---- — Although the Wigwam complex missed one date with the wrecking ball, a more important deadline is set for June 10 that will ultimately decide the fate of the iconic gym.

An agreement approved this week by the city of Anderson, the Anderson Community Schools, Wigwam Sports & Entertainment (WSE) and Tom Snyder has kept the effort to save the structure alive.

Part of the agreement states the school system could transfer ownership and responsibility for the Wigwam complex to the city of Anderson by June 10 at no cost.

But that should not be construed that Anderson is going to pay the approximately $4,000 per month in utility and maintenance costs until the WSE gets the financing in place to operate the facility.

Greg Winkler, director of the Anderson Economic Development Department, said the language in the agreement was included as a way for ACS to divest itself of ownership of the Wigwam.

As a public entity, ACS couldn’t donate the property to a private entity. It can transfer ownership to another government entity.

He said the city doesn’t have the funding to pay to keep the complex in limbo. If nothing happens by June 10, it may be the final buzzer for the Wigwam.

Sometime in the next few months the city of Anderson will be advertising for requests for proposals for the use of the Wigwam complex. WSE will have to present a viable fiscal plan for the operation and maintenance of the complex and beat out any other parties that may be interested.

Should a viable proposal be presented to the city, ownership of the Wigwam could transfer from ACS to Anderson.

WSE is attempting to raise $200,000 in private donations to save the gym. As of Friday it had received $200.

With 86 days until a decision is made on the future of the Wigwam, the donation process has to raise $2,325 per day.

Mounds Lake support?

A check of the Mounds Lake website showed a listing of business and professional support for the proposed reservoir in Anderson that would extend eastward into Delaware County.

Listed as supporters of the proposal were: The Anderson Madison County Visitors and Convention Bureau; the Anderson Madison County Association of Realtors; and the Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

Those organizations should not be considered a surprise. Also listed is the Onward Alliance and the Delaware Tribe of Indiana.

The city of Anderson is named after Chief Anderson of the Delaware tribe, who located in the area in the late 1700s.

An email exchange shows the Tribe has never endorsed the project and was not aware of the history of it, said Gregory Brown, with the Tribe. He said they were asked to review the location for sensitivity for specific Delaware Tribe archaeological sites, which was misconstrued to imply support for the project.

Brown said the Tribe wants its name removed.

Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide’s column publishes Sundays. Contact him at Ken.DeLaBastide@heraldbulletin.com or (765) 640-4863.