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Morvin’s Landing project back on agenda

Harrison County Parks Dept. Director Rand Heazlitt Monday morning, after receiving encouragement from members of the general public, again requested funding from the county for the Morvin’s Landing preserve/park project east of Mauckport.
‘The park board made the recommendation, after many phone calls, to bring the request back for reconsideration,’ Heazlitt told the board of commissioners at its regular meeting.
Heazlitt said he thought a small number of people became the most vocal in opposition of the project, causing it to be voted down by the county council; but now, the majority of folks in favor of it are speaking up not only to park board members, but also to county council members.
‘I’ve received a few calls,’ Commissioner Kenny Saulman said.
Heazlitt said the fact that the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources has conducted an expensive appraisal on the property shows the level of commitment that all but guarantees the receipt of the Bicentennial Nature Trust grant that would pay a portion of the cost of the 93-acre property.
Heazlitt assured the board that the majority of the property will still be leased to be farmed perpetually (the proceeds from the leasing will go into a trust with the Harrison County Community Foundation).
‘Do you think that fact will sway the council?’ Commissioner George Ethridge asked.
‘I think it will sway a councilperson or two,’ Heazlitt said.
Last month, the council narrowly voted down the request of $100,000 by a 4-3 vote. Councilmembers Sherry Brown, Richard Gerdon, Jim Heitkemper and Ralph Sherman were against the project.
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 system was established. The nature trust idea for the 200-year state anniversary mirrors that initiative.
The preserve will not be similar to Hayswood Nature Reserve but, instead, will only include maybe a trail and a few historical markers.
The area is most famously known as the site 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). But the history is not limited to Morgan. 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. The site was also a part of the underground railroad and was a ferry point up until 1966 when the Matthew E. Welsh Bridge was constructed.
The council will hear the request at its next meeting, Tuesday at 7 p.m. (moved from Monday because of Veterans Day). It won’t vote on the additional, reduced from $100,000 to about $97,000, until its last meeting in November.
In other business Monday, the commissioners voted to wave a previously committed $5 million for the Corydon west Interstate 64 project and instead plan to direct the funding to the Lanesville connector road project, which runs from the Lanesville I-64 interchange area north to S.R. 64 (somewhere near the Harrison-Floyd County line).
Ethridge said the county council, or at least a few councilmembers, would not consider supporting the connector road project as long as the $5 million was still committed to the Corydon west interchange project.
Engineer Kevin Russel moved forward with the application process for federal grants available for the project and also the Indian Creek Trail project.
The commissioners also
moved to change next year’s second meetings of the month starting time to 7 p.m. instead of 7:30. The next meeting will be Monday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Government Center in Corydon.