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Issue of October 15, 2014
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Morvin's Landing project back on agenda

Commissioners pass request to council, again

November 06, 2013 | 08:18 AM

Harrison County Parks Dept. Director Rand Heazlitt Monday morning, after receiving encouragement from members of the general public, again requested funding from the county for the Morvin's Landing preserve/park project east of Mauckport.

"The park board made the recommendation, after many phone calls, to bring the request back for reconsideration," Heazlitt told the board of commissioners at its regular meeting.

Heazlitt said he thought a small number of people became the most vocal in opposition of the project, causing it to be voted down by the county council; but now, the majority of folks in favor of it are speaking up not only to park board members, but also to county council members.

"I've received a few calls," Commissioner Kenny Saulman said.

Heazlitt said the fact that the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources has conducted an expensive appraisal on the property shows the level of commitment that all but guarantees the receipt of the Bicentennial Nature Trust grant that would pay a portion of the cost of the 93-acre property.

Heazlitt assured the board that the majority of the property will still be leased to be farmed perpetually (the proceeds from the leasing will go into a trust with the Harrison County Community Foundation).

"Do you think that fact will sway the council?" Commissioner George Ethridge asked.

"I think it will sway a councilperson or two," Heazlitt said.

Last month, the council narrowly voted down the request of $100,000 by a 4-3 vote. Councilmembers Sherry Brown, Richard Gerdon, Jim Heitkemper and Ralph Sherman were against the project.

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 system was established. The nature trust idea for the 200-year state anniversary mirrors that initiative.

The preserve will not be similar to Hayswood Nature Reserve but, instead, will only include maybe a trail and a few historical markers.

The area is most famously known as the site 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). But the history is not limited to Morgan. 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. The site was also a part of the underground railroad and was a ferry point up until 1966 when the Matthew E. Welsh Bridge was constructed.

The council will hear the request at its next meeting, Tuesday at 7 p.m. (moved from Monday because of Veterans Day). It won't vote on the additional, reduced from $100,000 to about $97,000, until its last meeting in November.

In other business Monday, the commissioners voted to wave a previously committed $5 million for the Corydon west Interstate 64 project and instead plan to direct the funding to the Lanesville connector road project, which runs from the Lanesville I-64 interchange area north to S.R. 64 (somewhere near the Harrison-Floyd County line).

Ethridge said the county council, or at least a few councilmembers, would not consider supporting the connector road project as long as the $5 million was still committed to the Corydon west interchange project.

Engineer Kevin Russel moved forward with the application process for federal grants available for the project and also the Indian Creek Trail project.

The commissioners also

moved to change next year's second meetings of the month starting time to 7 p.m. instead of 7:30. The next meeting will be Monday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Government Center in Corydon.

Twitter: @rossschulz

  1. print email
    I'm a supporter
    November 07, 2013 | 10:16 AM

    I am in favor of a park at Morton's landing. It would be a great addition to the county. Instead of the commissioners pocketing that money use it for something everyone in the county can enjoy.

    David Monroe
  2. print email
    Too much money
    November 07, 2013 | 12:46 PM

    Why not put up a few historical markers along the highway along with a small place to off the road to read them. This could be done for a very small amount of money. And has anybody every told the new head of the parks board that this area is underwater if the river comes up?

    The council recently had to dip into over $2 million dollars in reserves... again. How much is that over the last few years out of this fund, done by both parties? Congrats to Heitkemper, Sherman, Gerdon, and Brown for voting against this boondoggle and showing some fiscal responsibility. Shame on ... Davis, Smith, and Pendleton, for wanting to blow $100,000 on this. They are supposed to be in charge of long term financial planning? Why not replace them with people like Jim Heitkemper and Richard Gerdon who seem to know that it is taxpayer money.

    It is just a matter of time before there is gambling in Kentucky and when that happens, kiss most of that boat money goodbye.

  3. print email
    Makes Too Much Sense
    November 10, 2013 | 08:09 AM

    This project makes to much sense in so many ways. This is not just any piece of land or just a place in Harrison County. This is a piece of land that has unbelievable historical value to many even beyond our borders. It is also an area that should be preserved for generations to come to protect it from being exploited in the future.

    This is being paid for with riverboat revenue, which is not a tax paid for by Harrison County taxpayers. This project will be self funded from its own revenues and will never cost the citizens of Harrison County a single dollar. The whole purpose of river boat revenue when passed by the legislature was to fund one-time projects that did not create an ongoing tax burden that the taxpayers could not fund. We have not done a lot of that.

    Thank goodness for people like Davis, Smith and Pendleton for having the fiscal responsibility to know that this was the purpose riverboat revenue was created for and shame on Heitkemper, Gerdon, Sherman and Brown for voting in the self interest of one family ...

    Concerned Taxpayer
  4. print email
    November 10, 2013 | 10:45 AM

    I don't see anybody talking about what the long term costs of this plan. Will this require more employees, utility cost, insurance, et? Our budget is deep in the hole ... why should we dig the hole deeper?

  5. print email
    November 11, 2013 | 03:12 PM

    The plan for the nature preserve takes the long-term costs into account. The land will continue to be farmed in perpetuity--forever--and the income from the farming will be put into a special fund that can only be used for the maintenance and upkeep of the preserve.

    The annual income from renting the land to be farmed is well in excess of the maintenance costs. So much in excess, in fact, that someday that fund will have so much money in it that future politicians will be trying to figure out how to raid it. What a problem to have!

  6. print email
    November 12, 2013 | 05:21 PM

    Harrison county needs the boat ramp.Give the people of Harrison County some recreational opportunities close to home.

  7. print email
    Morgan's Landing Park
    November 13, 2013 | 07:55 AM

    Would this also include a boat landing to allow access to Buck Creek. Hope so, but would be in favor regardless.

    joe wuerth
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