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Lanesville gets $1.2 million advance for gym roof

The agreement was signed Monday night allowing an advance of $1.25 million in riverboat funds to replace the defective gymnasium at Lanesville Elementary School and to add five classrooms.
The Harrison County Board of Commissioners earlier sought to give the money to the school system with no payback, but the Harrison County Council refused to fund the money under those terms and rescinded the appropriation.
The council did agree to allow Lanesville 12 years instead of six to deduct the sums from future riverboat education dollars interest-free, which means Lanesville will receive some money to pay for programs to enhance education. The interlocal agreement calls for $104,166 to be deducted annually from Lanesville’s revenue, beginning next year. Should Harrison County no longer receive riverboat revenue, then the payback would be forgiven.
‘The council wasn’t very happy with what we proposed,’ said Commissioner James Goldman, ‘and we weren’t happy with what they proposed’ at first.
Now, he said, ‘I think we’ve got an agreement that’s the best we can get.’
Commission chair J.R. Eckart said, ‘It does accomplish the No. 1 goal,’ which is to allow the school corporation to let bids and start soon on the repairs rather than wading through the lengthy bond process which would have been necessary if tax funds were used.
Goldman’s motion to enter into the agreement was seconded immediately by Commissioner Jim Heitkemper. ‘I understand they are ready to get going, and I don’t want to slow it down at all,’ he said.
Use of the gym has been halted by a structural engineer who declared it unsafe in January because the defective roof could collapse. Wooden beams used in the construction of the ceiling have split and buckled, in part due to the addition of air-conditioning in the gym which dried out the wooden trusses and caused them to shrink.
Funds dedicated to the reduction of property taxes will not be affected, only those earmarked for education. Lanesville’s pro-rata share of education dollars in the past has ranged from $200,000 to $250,000 a year.
In other matters Monday night, the commissioners again delayed action on Mike Sphire’s 70-acre development off Old Dam 43 Road, southeast of Elizabeth behind Caesars’ Chariot Run golf course.
After the many proposals rejected for the development since Sphire first began seeking zoning approval about 10 months ago, the plan commission had forwarded Sphire’s Planned Unit Development for eight lots with a favorable recommendation to the commissioners. But the rub this time was the wording in the ordinance.
Essentially, the commissioners wanted the restrictions (including the requirement for 1,500-square-foot homes, not counting garages or servants’ quarters, or 2,000 square feet for two-story homes) spelled out in the ordinance rather than incorporated by reference. The issue will be revisited at the commissioners’ next meeting, April 5.
Heitkemper again pushed for 2,500-square-foot homes to ‘set the standards’ for future development in that area and to increase property taxes on those homes enough to offset the costs of providing services, and to complement Caesars’ golf course.
‘I would like to study this some more,’ he said. ‘I know you would like to put this to beddy-bye and forget it, but, the truth is, these people will have to live with this.’
Eckart said, ‘I don’t know anybody that builds 1,500-square-foot homes for people that are a run-down mess. You can’t build it that way with today’s codes.’
Planner Eric Wise said the latest set of restrictions are the same as those required for the upscale Country Club Estates in Corydon.
Later in the discussion, Heitkemper said, ‘I want a motion to table this until we get something worked out.’
Goldman and Eckart declined to second the motion.
‘I think it’s much to do about nothing,’ Goldman said. ‘I don’t think you have an issue. They are trying to build something that will sell.
‘I don’t want to sit here all night,’ Goldman added. ‘I’ll second your motion so (the ordinance) can be cleaned up. We will hear this on the 5th of April.’
Sphire was not present, but his attorney, John Kraft of New Albany, sat on the front row, alternately shaking his head in agreement with the information Wise provided or taking notes.
The commissioners also discussed a change in the subdivision ordinance requiring six-inch water lines in developments. Fire departments have suggested the requirement to ensure a ready supply of water.
In most instances, that would require a developer to tap into the nearest six-inch or four-inch line for water, which Heitkemper said would result in an upgrade.
‘As far as I’m concerned, this is a good ordinance,’ Heitkemper said.
But Eckart said, ‘This is a very expensive proposition that would affect development from now on.’
He suggested that a cost benefit analysis might be beneficial, to determine savings on fire insurance. Saving a life, though, could be the end result. ‘This could work toward that, but this could also stifle development,’ Eckart said.
Goldman said Harrison County’s fire departments already do a good job of fighting fires with the water-carrying pumper trucks that have been provided.
‘Why are you putting more value on a house in a subdivision than in the country?’ he asked rhetorically.
‘Home buyers will pay the price,’ Goldman said. ‘I’m not totally opposed to it, but I think you will make it cost-prohibitive for a younger couple to buy a home.’
Eckart said enforcing the requirement would be difficult for the planning department’s small staff.
After considerable discussion, Heitkemper noted: ‘It’s not as simple as I thought.’
The matter was tabled indefinitely.
In other matters, the commissioners:
‘ Agreed to forward a request for $200,000 in riverboat revenue to the council for Harrison County Community Services to help care for the needy ‘ the same amount as provided last year;
‘ Agreed to forward a request to the council for $500,000 in matching funds from riverboat revenue for a federal grant to pay for the construction of the House of New Beginnings on Floyd Street in Corydon. The facility would be a 30-bed halfway house for men who are recovering drug or alcohol abusers who typically pay rent to cover the operating costs.

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