Thursday, December 3, 2015

Toward the end -- Part 8

Causeway bridge work
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a meeting on Feb. 11, 1965 at the Brookville High School gymnasium.

More than 1,000 people showed up, according to a report from the Richmond Palladium-Item, written by Max Knight.

The throng was gathered because they wanted to know exactly how the federal government intended to proceed with purchasing land in the doomed valley of the East Fork.

Clearly, if only those who lived in the valley of the East Fork had been in attendance, the census would have been well short of 1,000. So lots of people with no dog in the fight were there to catch a bit of the news.

Wrote Knight:

"A crowd of 1,000 people listened in attentive silence as corps officers Maurice Gardner, Fred Morgan and Thomas Roper explained the time schedule for construction and plans for land acquisition."

Roper was succinct in telling the crowd what would not be discussed. "We have been so ordered by Congress, and that is exactly what we intend to do. Therefore, we do not intend to get into any question of whether the project should be undertaken or not."

So don't ask. Just. Don't. Ask.

The Corps had a pretty good handle on its schedule, Gardner said, estimating it would take just over four working seasons to complete the project, "meaning it would fill in late 1969 and early 1970."

The Corps was off on that estimate by about 4 years.

A total of 11,000 acres were to be purchased by the state and federal governments, including the approximately 7,700 acres for the lake itself. "The order of purchase will be the dam construction site first, reservoir area second, shoreline area third and finally the recreation area."

Roper and Gardner were less specific about the locations of the recreation areas, though they did reveal that seven such locations would be included.

"Purchase of the land is to start this spring (1965)," Gardner told the crowd, "and will not be completed until 1968." The method of buying land was to be dictated by "just compensation."

Fair market value, as appraised by the Corps of Engineers, was to be considered when negotiating with homeowners.

"This appraised value will not be made known to the landowners but will be used in arriving at a figure to offer for the land being purchased."

In other words, the deck was stacked. Hell, we had to move anyway.

Landowners were to be permitted to remain in their homes until the project reached that geographic area. Most moved before that time, however.

The two were unclear at the time about the need to move a cemetery in Dunlapsville, which inevitably did not have to be moved. As well, the covered bridges at Fairfield and Dunlapsville weren't being protected.

Roper said: "We cannot move a covered bridge for its historic value. However, in many cases, local historical groups band together to move a covered bridge to a new location."

That plan didn't work out too well. ABOUT THE BRIDGE

What didn't come out clearly was whether the first sellers had an impact on those who sold later in the process. The Corps seemed to dance around the question by saying "We offer fair market value." Presumably what a property was worth at the time it was bought was what it was worth to the government.

In any event, eminent domain had won out.

Along the way, the state made plans to buy land east of the valley where the new State Route 101 would be located.

And a strategic plan was put into place to construct a bridge across the lake at Fairfield that connected SR 101 with SR 1 in Blooming Grove. That became Causeway Road and linked New Fairfield to the outside world.

Causeway in the distance
Part of the land that the state bought during the land acquisition phase included a 300-foot buffer zone around the lake that prohibited any construction. The buffer zone was designed to accommodate extremely high water in the lake.

And the state mandated that all boats on the lake were to be docked at marinas rather than in front of private homes. Cutting down on tacky was a big deal. The Indiana Flood Control Commission, in justifying the mandate, said: "Water in a reservoir fluctuates with each rain and the danger of swamping an unattended boat is prevalent."

Tom O'Connor, chief cook and bottle washer in running the local flood control committee, estimated that a million unique visitors would come to the lake in any given year.

"We must have sufficient roads to carry such a demand and zoning restrictions to keep the land around the lake respectable."

Well, that was the goal. The part about the roads is still being discussed.


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