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Main Street seeks grant ‘ again ‘ to clear Keller site

Main Street Corydon will file a second application on or before April 7 for a state grant to clear the vacant Keller Manufacturing site in Corydon of any possible contaminants and empty buildings.
Sean Hawkins, manager of community development in Harrison County, told the Harrison County Council Monday night that Main Street has decided the entire site should be cleared and made available for development.
‘Eliminating everything at the site and getting rid of safety hazards could allow great economic development to occur,’ said Hawkins, adding that tests conducted so far have shown ‘very low contamination’ at the site.
‘So far, it’s looking good,’ he said.
Hawkins said a grant application filed in 2004 for $517,688 with the state has apparently been lost. The Indiana Office of Rural Affairs has been working the past year to locate the application, but has not been successful. Hawkins said he was instructed to reapply for the grant, for which he believes just $500,000 is now available.
Hawkins said the council had approved a matching grant last year when the application was filed, but that $79,100 appropriation died at the end of the year so another is needed.
‘We applied last year, but the grant was lost’ by the state, said Hawkins. ‘We probably won’t have to spend it all.’
Commissioner James Goldman, vice chair of the commissioners, said the original matching funds are still in the riverboat economic development account. That amount should be appropriate as a match in advance so the state will be assured the money will be forthcoming, he said.
Gary Davis, chair of the council, instructed Auditor Pat Wolfe to advertise the request in time for the council’s March 13 meeting.
Hawkins said the decision to clear the Keller site was in keeping with a recommendation from the consulting firm. ‘The consulting firm said it would be too expensive to save.’
However, Hawkins said because the grant is not expected to be enough to cover demolition of all of the buildings, the original building will likely stay.
‘We can remove the asbestos and the other buildings,’ he said, if the grant is approved at $500,000.
The main problem, right now, is not the possible contaminates or asbestos that needs to be removed. Hawkins said the site, with its empty structures ‘is a safety hazard.’
Fire is the main concern, he added.
Hawkins said part of the original structure might be saved. ‘If (Main Street) feels compelled to keep the facade, that’s quite possible.’
Hawkins said Don Peeples of Fox Lake, Ill., is still interested in developing a water park at the Keller site, but he cannot go forward until the state gives a green-light that the site is clean.
Residents and merchants in Corydon can be expected to share their concerns and wishes for the Keller site, once it becomes available, Hawkins said.