Homes, businesses may be forced out in order to create reservoir

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ANDERSON – Homeowners have mixed feelings about a proposal that would flood land in Madison and Delaware counties, forcing people and businesses out of the area.

The Mounds Lake Project would turn land into a seven-mile reservoir that would serve as a water source and supply water to Indianapolis. The lake would begin in downtown Anderson and go into Delaware County.

“It will definitely enable (us) to control the White River and flood controls, as well (as it will) give us the chance (for) some redevelopment positioning of the community as well as some new development,” said Rob Sparks, executive director of the Corporation for Economic Development in Madison County.

The project is in its early stages and more environmental impact studies need to be conducted.

“Hopefully, we’ll progress with the communities, joining together to pursue phase two feasibility,” Sparks said.

Sparks would like the project to turn into a reality, including finding funding for it. The project could cost between $350 million and $450 million. Some of that could come from federal grants, he said.

The proposal would flood Mounds Mall of Anderson and other businesses. Sparks said mall owners are on board with the project because they are funding partners.

“I think most of the folks would like us to move as quickly as possible to find that conclusion to the conversation,” Sparks said.

Anderson City Councilman Russ Willis said the project would have a positive impact on the community. He believes it would spur economic development and become a recreational site.

“The possibilities are endless,” he said.

But that progress would come at a cost. An estimated 400 people would be forced out of their homes, the majority of them in Anderson.

Judy Hensley has lived in Hollywood Estates since 1991. She opposes the project.

“It’s just a beautiful place to live. It’s quiet. You’re close to everything and I can’t imagine them flooding the mall and Big Lots and all this other stuff they’re saying they’re going to do,” Hensley said.

Hensley said people in her neighborhood don’t want the proposal to move forward.

“I think somebody is dreaming really big and I think they’re going to get shot out of the saddle,” she told Fox 59.

Before the proposal passes, it has to be approved by a number of city and county councils. If approved, construction may not begin until 2021. It could take four years after that for the project to be completed.

If people are forced out of their homes, Sparks said the Anderson Housing Authority would help families relocate.

“There’s always going to be that small group of people that are going to be against anything—change. Change is not always east to accept, but this is a very positive change for Anderson and could really be a huge boost to our whole community and attitude,” Willis said.

Neighbors will have their chance to learn more about the proposal and voice their concerns during a series of meetings. The first meeting was held on Tuesday night. The second meeting will be on April 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Daleville High School Cafetorium. The last meeting is April 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Reardon Auditorium on Fifth Street.