State seeks to use property as wetland mitigation area

In the four years since flood-damaged homes were torn down as part of a government buyout, a Center Grove area property has been overgrown with weeds and grass and become a dumping ground.

Now, the county is considering a new option for the land, which could give it new life as a park that would be maintained by the state.

The Indiana Department of Transportation has asked to use a 10-acre piece of property in Bluff Acres, a subdivision off State Road 135, south of Smith Valley Road, as a wetland mitigation area, Commissioner Ron West said. Those areas are often created after a construction project elsewhere is built on or impacts a wetland, he said.

Under the proposal, the county would lease the property to the state for 10 years, West said.

During that time, the state has proposed planting trees on the property and being in charge of maintaining it, such as by mowing and trimming weeds.

The county is researching the proposal, but so far, it seems like a good deal, West said.

Since the county’s flood buyout, where money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was used to purchase 34 flood-damaged properties, that land has been empty. More than half of the properties the county purchased were in the Bluff Acres neighborhood, where dozens of homes were damaged by the 2008 flood.

In some parts of the neighborhood, empty lots bordered homes where residents still live. So the county worked with those residents to allow them to use the land, but also maintain it with mowing and trimming.

With this property, no other homes border it, so that wasn’t possible, West said.

The county has been maintaining the property, but at times it has been overgrown. In some cases, residents have dumped trash at the site, West said.

The state has proposed making the property have a park-like feel, including planting new trees, he said.

“They will mow it, plant trees, make it a park-like setting,” West said.

“We are looking into it, and unless there are some catches we are not aware of, this is a win-win.”

Commissioners are expected to discuss the proposal at their meeting this week.

Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.