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Extension granted for purchase of land for halfway house

The House of New Beginnings has obtained an extension on the deadline to purchase nearly seven acres for a halfway house in Corydon. The group now has until Feb. 1 instead of Dec. 14 to obtain funding in accordance with the purchase agreement.
Corydon attorney Leah Fink, speaking on behalf of New Beginnings, told the Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday night the $70,000 requested in riverboat revenue for the purchase wouldn’t be needed as soon as originally expected.
The three commissioners first heard the request at their Dec. 3 meeting.
This is the second plan offered by New Beginnings to open a halfway house for recovering alcoholics and drug abusers. The first plan to construct a facility next door to The Next Step, on property that agency owns, failed more than a year ago, after zoning permission was denied.
Citing the need for more time to review the group’s latest plan and location, the commissioners said they would review and possibly act on the issue at Monday night’s meeting. But they delayed a decision again Monday night because there’s now enough time to consider all aspects, including alternatives, before asking the county council to approve the funding.
Commissioner J.R. Eckart commended New Beginnings for putting together the program. “I’m looking for ways to help you obtain your goal,” he said. “I appreciate your bringing back the information and helping us with a little more time.”
Several questions have arisen, mainly concerning the need for so much acreage, who would own the property should New Beginnings fold, the timetable for construction, and the cost of maintenance.
Fink assured Eckart and commissioners James Goldman and Terry Miller that smaller-sized properties were considered, but none are available with proper zoning, which has proven to be nearly an insurmountable obstacle, given the usual objections of neighbors. The seven-acre site is especially viable because it is within walking distance of downtown and The Next Step, a self-help club which lends support to the same group of people.
The additional acres would provide a buffer between the residence and neighbors, and the men staying at the facility could spend part of their time outdoors maintaining the property, Fink said.
Also, Fink said the property owner is not willing to sell less acreage.
Should New Beginnings fold, the group’s incorporation papers specify that the property would revert to The Next Step, which is also a non-profit group with the same long-term goals.
“We felt that was the logical group to designate,” Fink said.
Although the project has no specific timetable for construction, Fink said IRS requirements call for completion by August 2003.
The commissioners are expected to reach a decision in time to seek funding from the council before the Feb. 1 deadline, if the decision is in favor of the purchase.
If constructed as planned, the halfway house could serve up to 30 men, who would pay room and board to defray ongoing expenses.
A needs assessment found that a facility for women isn’t necessary because space is available for them in nearby counties.