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Morvin's Landing project narrowly defeated, 4-3

October 23, 2013 | 08:21 AM

The Harrison County Council last Tuesday evening voted down the Morvin's Landing park/preserve proposal requested by the Harrison County Bicentennial committee by a 4-3 margin.

After another long discussion with multiple audience members speaking for and against the project, Councilman Richard Gerdon made the motion to deny the request and Councilman Ralph Sherman seconded.

At that point, Councilman Jim Heitkemper called for a five-minute break.

Upon returning, Heitkemper and Councilwoman Sherry Brown joined for the motion, while Councilmen Gordon Pendleton, Gary Davis and Phil Smith voted against the motion to deny the funding.

The proposal was supported by, not only the bicentennial group, but also the county parks department and was favorably received by the Bicentennial Nature Trust officials with the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources.

Opponents included Kent Yeager, a neighbor of the property, and other residents who voiced their concerns about safety, since, they said, the area is a popular spot for mischief since it is secluded.

The request was for $100,000, with the rest of the funding for the project coming from the nature trust and the Harrison County Community Foundation.

The Bicentennial Nature Trust was created to preserve and protect important conservation and recreation areas throughout Indiana by matching donations of land or dollars. Property acquired with the trust becomes part of the public trust to ensure that the land is protected for future generations of Hoosiers to use and enjoy.

During the state's 100-year anniversary, the state parks program was established. The nature trust idea for the 200-year anniversary of the state mirrors that initiative.

Bill Brockman, a historian and member of the bicentennial committee who spoke in favor of the project, said Henry Heth and many of the county's early settlers used Morvin's Landing as a crossing point from Kentucky. Heth helped establish the town of Corydon, he said, and it was part of the underground railroad, was a ferry point up until 1966 when the Matthew E. Welsh Bridge was constructed and, most famously, was where Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his raiders crossed into Indiana during the Civil War (making it a stop on the historic Morgan's Raid Trail).

Harrison County Historian Dan Bays also spoke in favor of the project.

The plan was to keep farming the land perpetually, with very little change to the site, Rand Heazlitt, Harrison County Parks director, said.

Yeager, his son James and Kyle Eschbacher all expressed concerns about the plan because of the lack of safety in the area.

"I don't know how you're going to keep my parents safe," James Yeager said. "I really think you need to think this through a little bit more."

Eschbacher said, regardless if it is a park or not, people won't pay attention and will do what they want to do.

Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye said the security issue is under control now that one "bad neighbor" has been removed.

At least at the county level, the Morvin's Landing issue is now put to rest.

Heazlitt said he wouldn't be surprised if DNR officials pursue the project.

In other business, the council completed its first reading of the 2014 budget and will read it a second, and final, time at its next regular meeting Monday at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.

Twitter: @rossschulz

  1. print email
    Share the wealth???
    October 24, 2013 | 10:56 PM

    The southern part of the county "never" gets anythin that involves money from county politicians!! Been that way for over half of a century!!! All for harrison township and none for the rest of the county!!!!

  2. print email
    October 25, 2013 | 09:41 AM

    Looks to me like it's people from the southern part of the county like Kent Yeager, Ralph Sherman, Jim Heitkemper, and Sherry Brown that stopped this.

    Perhaps you should take it up with them?

  3. print email
    Where's their Vision?
    October 25, 2013 | 11:47 AM

    I cannot believe this was defeated! Citing mischief as a reason is ludicrous.

    I really wish those that voted against it would explain themselves. This is a great use for that area, and would show that southern Harrison County is not the forgotten/neglected part of the county. You guys need to revisit this issue. Did you ask your constituents before you voted no? I seriously doubt that any of you did.

    JW Laconia
  4. print email
    Safety Issue??
    October 28, 2013 | 12:55 PM

    I am at a loss to understand how creating a conservation and recreation area increases the liklihood of mischief and impacts the safety of the neighbors - who are worried about issues that are already occurring at that location due to it's seclusion. Having more visitors on a regular basis would make the area less "secluded" and therefore less likely to be an area where one would go to engage in those types of activities. I fail to see how voting "NO" to this project protects Mr. Yeager's safety, as it does nothing to change the status of the property ...

    Concerned and Confused Citizen
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Corydon Democrat, 301 N. Capitol Ave., Corydon, IN 47112 • 1-812-738-2211 • email