Public Meeting for Monroe Lake Master Plan

IMG_5342In an effort that appears to have flown completely under the radar, the US Army Corps of Engineers (ASACE) — the owners of our only water supply, Monroe Lake — is in the process of updating the Monroe Lake Master Plan. This is the first master plan update since 1967!

The USACE has hired the engineering firm Woolpert to produce the master plan. I’m attaching the draft plan, as of December 3: MLMP December 3, 2015. Woolpert is contracted to deliver a revised draft of the master plan on January 15, 2016, which will incorporate the public comment received during the planning process.

In order to receive public input, the USACE has an open house planned for December 15 (tomorrow) from 3-7PM in the conference room at the Middle Wabash Area Office at Monroe Lake at 1620 East Monroe Dam Ct.  The public will be able to view the planning efforts so far and make input to the plan.

Overall, the draft master plan appears pretty complementary to the needs of our residents in Monroe County.  The draft plan is long, but the most salient section is 5.0 Resource Use Objectives. In short, the objectives are:

5.1 Flood Control

5.2 Water Supply for the City of Bloomington

5.3 Provide Low Water Augmentation to Salt Creek Drainage Area

5.4 Provide Opportunities for Recreational Use of Land and Water

5.5 Protect and Preserve Natural Resources and Habitats

These objectives seem to preclude (or at least prejudice) a water claim from Indianapolis. I’m also glad to see the “Water Supply for the City of Bloomington” objective listed above the “Provide Opportunities for Recreational Use of Land and Water” objective, even though there is no explicit ranking among the objectives.

However, there WAS one line that opened my eyes, on page 3-3:

“The city of Bloomington withdraws an average of 15 million gallons per day through the Monroe Water Treatment Plant from Monroe Lake. This withdrawal can increase to as much as 23 million gallons per day during warmer months (Bloomington, Lake Monroe). Eight rural water companies (Jones, Diagnostic Study) account for additional water draws from the reservoir. Indianapolis reserves the right to withdraw water in the future, but currently does not do so. [emphasis mine]”

The plan does not elaborate. It does not specify under what authority Indianapolis reserves a right to withdraw water, and it does not specify any process or legal authority for adjudicating any claim if and when Indianapolis might assert one.

I plan to be there, and I hope others who want to make sure that our community’s interests in Monroe Lake are included in this plan. I will also report back on additional means through which to provide public input as soon as I learn more tomorrow.

North Park: Monroe County’s Future, or Ghost Suburb?

North Park — more formally known as the State Road 46 Economic Development Area — is one of Monroe County’s 3 TIF districts. Appropriately, it lies along State Road 46, between Bloomington and Ellettsville. I think a lot of Monroe County residents would be surprised at how much infrastructure has been installed in North Park — and simultaneously how little development there is.

Map of the Curry Pike Extension at North Park

A number of streets have been stubbed out with full infrastructure (water, sewer, communications), along with sidewalks and multiuse trails. However, the most notable thing about area is that there is almost no development!

Yet unnamed street off of the Curry Pike extension into North Park

Normally, no development — and therefore no tax increment — is disastrous for a TIF district and a local unit of government. Because the increment is used to pay the bond, if there is no increment due to development, the TIF district can’t pay the bond for the infrastructure, and the local unit of government (city or county) is on the hook. However, the North Park TIF district was set up such that the infrastructure bond was backed by the developer (Steve Crider, hence the nickname “Criderville”). This means that when the tax increment is insufficient to make the bond payments, the developer, not Monroe County, is on the hook.

Currently, the only tenants of this section of North Park (the Curry Pike extension east of SR46) are some grazing cows behind an electrified fence.

The only current tenants of North Park
Multiuse trail at the end of the Curry Pike extension into North Park

The Curry Pike extension currently dead-ends into Hunter Valley. A bridge is in process that will eventually connect Curry Pike to Hunter Valley Road.

Eventual connection to Hunter Valley, via a bridge over the creek

Wastewater (sewage) treatment is provided by a small package wastewater treatment plant off of Hunter Valley Road.

Package wastewater treatment plant for North Park

All of the lots are wired with fiber and communications infrastructure.

Communications infrastructure

A yet-unnamed street perpendicular to Curry Pike ends in Stoutes Creek, which was frothy and very muddy after a pretty powerful rain earlier today.

Muddy water in Stoutes Creek

If you continue beyond the the end of the unnamed street to the north, a trail leads around and over Stoutes Creek to the construction staging area.

Construction staging area outside Stoutes Creek

The 2012 Capital Improvement Report for Monroe County’s 3 TIF districts reveals some aspirations for the North Park TIF district. A section labeled “Other Projects” states that “These projects may include, but not be limited to construction of a passenger rail service, bicycle and pedestrian paths, bus transit facilities, assistance with low-income housing, fiber optic conduit, and multi-level parking facilities.” So what is the future of North Park — the new urbanist dream promised by the TIF plan? Just another opportunity for suburban car-oriented sprawl? Or a really beautiful ghost suburb, populated by a herd of grazing cows?

Ohio Supreme Court Rules Developer Impact Fees Illegal

The Supreme Court of neighboring state Ohio ruled 7-0 that developer impact fees (fees charged by a township in order to cover the costs of infrastructure, fire, police services, etc.) are illegal. The ruling is essentially that these fees are really taxes and have to follow the same rules and limitations as other taxes.

An article in the Cincinnati Enquirer is here:|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE