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Main Street seeks funds to clean up Keller site

The Harrison County Council Monday night heard a plea from Main Street Corydon to provide matching funds for a state ‘Brownfields’ grant to clean up the vacated Keller Furniture Co. plant in Corydon so Main Street can develop the site that’s nestled between Big Indian Creek on the west and private homes on the east.
‘This is probably one of the boldest Main Street projects ever attempted in Indiana,’ said Sean Hawkins, a director of Main Street Corydon. ‘We wanted a positive outcome for this property.
‘It’s too close to home to let something bad happen.’
He said, ‘Now the main thing is getting rid of environmental problems.’
Those mainly concern two buildings with asbestos and wood-constructed buildings that cannot be equipped with sprinkler systems and so are a fire hazard, he said.
The total costs of the project would be $517,688, 10 percent of which is needed for the local match. The state grant would be a community development grant awarded under the ‘Brownfields Redevelopment Program.’
Commissioner J.R. Eckart made the official request for the funds. ‘It is an economic development issue,’ he said. ‘We need to deal with it before it turns into a Wenning site.’
Eckart referred to the old Wenning packing plant at Central Barren that was razed just last year after many years of deterioration. It had become an eyesore and physical hazard and raised fears of environmental problems that looked worse than they turned out to be. Nevertheless, Commissioner James Goldman has led the charge in tackling that project.
Main Street Corydon is asking for $51,768 in economic development funds from the riverboat revenue account to pay its share of clearing the Corydon site.
‘Our main goal is to turn this property back into a tax-producing property,’ Hawkins said.
Hawkins invited council members to tour the site before reaching a decision.
Council chair Gary Davis said the proposed appropriation has been advertised and will be on the Sept. 27 council agenda.
The state grants will likely be announced before the first of the year, Hawkins said.
Among other matters Monday night, the council approved funding to add 23 spaces to the Harrison County Justice Center’s front parking lot, which faces S.R. 135.
Eckart said the project is expected to cost about $20,000, less than is needed for the work to be bid.
The council also approved budgets for county government agencies next year. The total of all accounts, including those not funded with property taxes, is $27 million. Of that, the County General account is $7.2 million, or about $500,000 less than this year’s funding.
Davis also announced that the final report and recommendation regarding the Harrison County Hospital construction project is expected from consultants on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. The public is invited.