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Council halts South Harrison Park plan

Harrison County Parks Dept. officials gave an update to the Harrison County Council Monday night detailing its many accomplishments in the last year or so. Later in the meeting, however, it was action the board was unable to accomplish that became the focus.
The council failed to approve the parks board’s request to continue the revitalization effort at South Harrison Park near Elizabeth.
Councilman Richard Gerdon made the motion to hold off on the $44,400 master plan request for SH Park until next year, after the 2015 budget is complete and other major projects, such as the Lanesville sewer system, are in the books.
Gerdon did commend parks director Rand Heazlitt for work he has done and said he’s a supporter of the parks.
‘I want to see momentum continued, but the timing is bad,’ Gerdon said.
Gerdon then made a motion to put the request, which was unanimously passed by the board of commissioners, on hold until next year. Councilman Jim Heitkemper seconded and Councilman Ralph Sherman also voted for the motion. Council members Gary Davis, Phil Smith and Sherry Brown were against, meaning it stalled with a 3-3 vote (Councilman Gordon Pendleton was absent).
Smith made a motion to approve the request, but the vote was again split 3-3 along the same lines.
Smith said the board has $750,000 set aside for the project in the riverboat ‘what if’ analysis, which is not a budget, but a projection of spending.
Parks board member Larry Shickles said the board wanted the master plan complete this year so it would be eligible for certain grants to begin 2015. He also said the price on the master plan request will not be available again if they have to start all over.
‘This is an extension of what you’ve already got,’ he said of the request.
Essentially, Shickles said, the revitalization of the park is a dead issue for now after the failed motion to approve the request.
‘I’m not against the parks … I’m just trying to balance things,’ Gerdon said.
One of the primary objectives of the parks board is to revamp, revitalize and redevelop the 225-acre South Harrison Park. Even though a lake project was deemed unfeasible, the goal remained to enhance the park. The firm that conducted the lake study, DLZ, provided a master plan quote.
The plan was to include public input (possibly two meetings, one at the park and one in Corydon) to determine the best options for improvement to existing structures/attractions and ideas for new features.
A possible option Heazlitt mentioned was a cluster of cabins, tree-house cabins or cottages that could be used for any type of reunion or retreat. The plan would have been ready for review in October.
The county paid DLZ $27,500 to complete the lake feasibility study.
In other business, Circuit Court Judge John Evans and Sharon Uhl, director of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), were on hand to answer questions regarding their 2015 budget (neither could attend last week’s or tomorrow’s regularly scheduled budget hearing meetings with the council).
Uhl recently received results from a self-assessment from the regional program officer, and the organization passed with flying colors, according to Evans.
‘Not many organizations achieve what Sharon’s been able to achieve with CASA,’ he said.
The council will continue to hear budget requests, including Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye’s, tonight (Wednesday) at 5 at the Government Center in south Corydon.
The next regular meeting of the council will be Monday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center.

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