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Morvin’s Landing project narrowly defeated, 4-3

The Harrison County Council last Tuesday evening voted down the Morvin’s Landing park/preserve proposal requested by the Harrison County Bicentennial committee by a 4-3 margin.
After another long discussion with multiple audience members speaking for and against the project, Councilman Richard Gerdon made the motion to deny the request and Councilman Ralph Sherman seconded.
At that point, Councilman Jim Heitkemper called for a five-minute break.
Upon returning, Heitkemper and Councilwoman Sherry Brown joined for the motion, while Councilmen Gordon Pendleton, Gary Davis and Phil Smith voted against the motion to deny the funding.
The proposal was supported by, not only the bicentennial group, but also the county parks department and was favorably received by the Bicentennial Nature Trust officials with the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources.
Opponents included Kent Yeager, a neighbor of the property, and other residents who voiced their concerns about safety, since, they said, the area is a popular spot for mischief since it is secluded.
The request was for $100,000, with the rest of the funding for the project coming from the nature trust and the Harrison County Community Foundation.
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 program was established. The nature trust idea for the 200-year anniversary of the state mirrors that initiative.
Bill Brockman, a historian and member of the bicentennial committee who spoke in favor of the project, said 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, he said, and it was part of the underground railroad, was a ferry point up until 1966 when the Matthew E. Welsh Bridge was constructed and, most famously, was 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).
Harrison County Historian Dan Bays also spoke in favor of the project.
The plan was to keep farming the land perpetually, with very little change to the site, Rand Heazlitt, Harrison County Parks director, said.
Yeager, his son James and Kyle Eschbacher all expressed concerns about the plan because of the lack of safety in the area.
‘I don’t know how you’re going to keep my parents safe,’ James Yeager said. ‘I really think you need to think this through a little bit more.’
Eschbacher said, regardless if it is a park or not, people won’t pay attention and will do what they want to do.
Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye said the security issue is under control now that one ‘bad neighbor’ has been removed.
At least at the county level, the Morvin’s Landing issue is now put to rest.
Heazlitt said he wouldn’t be surprised if DNR officials pursue the project.
In other business, the council completed its first reading of the 2014 budget and will read it a second, and final, time at its next regular meeting Monday at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.