Preparedness

Indiana County Might Eye Buying Flood-Prone Properties

by Howard Greninger, The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind. / September 27, 2018

(TNS) — A Vigo County councilman hopes his fellow county officials consider purchasing flood-prone properties along the west bank of the Wabash River in the unincorporated area of Dresser, between Terre Haute and West Terre Haute, to help establish Bicentennial Park.

In November 2017, the Vigo County Board of Commissioners created a new fund aimed at acquiring property for community projects. Money for the fund comes from the sale of existing properties titled in the county’s name. The county sold three lots in 2017 for $45,000 that went into the fund.

“The Bicentennial Park is steered toward the trail head there. We don’t want to purchase a piece here or there, but be an actual park,” said Commissioner President Judith Anderson.

Councilman Brendan Kearns said the county still has money from a fund established for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants that Kearns suggests should be used to purchase more flood-prone properties along the western bank of the Wabash River.

“I recall sending an email to commissioners within the last two years about this,” Kearns said. “If that money is sitting in that account ... that is something we can look at and kind of get this back into motion again. There are landowners that want to know about those opportunities.”

Commissioners said they were unaware of an active account, as FEMA grants were handled through West Central Indiana Economic Development District.

“That is not the impression we got,” said Commissioner Brad Anderson of funds in an account.

Kylissa Miller, administrator for the Vigo County Council, said there is a fund, entitled FEMA, that contains $154,351.

After the meeting, former county auditor Tim Seprodi said the county established a fund in 2016 to make up-front payments for the purchase of FEMA-entitled properties that the federal agency would fully or partly reimburse.

Vigo County Auditor Jim Bramble said the fund last made an appropriation to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security on Aug. 19, 2016, for $83,969. Bramble confirmed the account still has more than $154,000. However, he is not sure if the account is bound by federal grant regulations. Bramble said he will research the fund.

Kearns, a Democrat, will soon leave the county’s fiscal body, the County Council, to join its administrative body, the Board of Commissioners.

Kearns is unopposed in November’s election for the District 1 seat on the Board of Commissioners.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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