By Scott L. Miley
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — The next step in the proposed Mounds Lake reservoir needs to remain transparent to help residents determine the merits of the project, area legislators said Monday.
State Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, and state Reps. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, and Jack Lutz, R-Anderson, met at the Anderson Public Library for a preview of the upcoming General Assembly. They were asked questions from the audience of about 25 including a question about the reservoir.
The reservoir project is being coordinated by the Corporation for Economic Development of Anderson/Madison County which was recently awarded a $600,000 state grant to study the feasibility of the project.
Monday afternoon, after the legislative session, Rob Sparks, executive director of the CED, said, “This has a huge community impact. It’s a fairly significant project so we’re going to bring a lot of people to the table.” No contracts have been let, he said, and updates will be available through the www.moundslake.com website and other social media. A calendar with a timeline for a community visioning session may be online in January.
Lanane said, “The process up to this point of time has been transparent. I think it has to remain that way so the support of the community and the trust of the community is maintained.”
Lanane said he was concerned about the displacement of homes and business on Anderson’s east side and the environmental impact of the project.
The proposed project would create a reservoir stretching over 2,100 acres by building a 50-foot high earthen dam on the White River, just east of East Lynn Street and 18th Street.
The grant is to fund a financial report, an environmental review, community impact assessment and engineering costs.
“To commit to the second phase of this study is important for us all before we really have an attitude or an opinion if we should move forward,” Lutz said. “I think this study will help us determine whether we should or not.”
Austin noted that the study would be “a public document” since funding for the study was derived from public funds.
Austin said, “Making sure that the public has access to it is one of the best ways to instill confidence in this project. It may be one of the true game changers for our city but we still don’t know that yet. We need to make sure that as the project moves forward that people are treated fairly, not just with what the law says people have to do but what’s truly the right thing to do for people who are displaced.”
On other topics, Lanane reiterated his opposition to a proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage. He thought the legislative session should focus more on jobs and economic development.
Lutz also said he thought there were more critical issues facing Hoosiers. “I, like Tim, think there’s a lot more important things that we should be doing,” Lutz said. “On a scale of 1 to 10, this ranks very low in importance as we move forward in this session.”
Austin and Lanane also said they planned to introduce bills in the short session, which begins Jan. 6, concerning issues of abuse.
Lanane said he has authored a bill to study the state’s adult protective services system. He said, “In many other states, there’s more of a comprehensive holistic type of approach in how we protect seniors which has more of an emphasis on social work.”
Austin said she planned to introduce a bill to toughen animal abuse laws, a topic that arose after the deaths of more than 120 animals on a northern Madison County farm earlier this year.
At a glance During the Indiana General Assembly, area legislators discuss legislative issues once a month at 8 a.m. sessions at the Anderson Public Library, 111 E. 12th St. The next dates are Jan. 6, March 3 and April 7. The sessions are open to the public.