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Rec director works to protect restroom investment

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By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

TELL CITY - Perry County Recreation Director Dan Adams is working to ensure $166,000 in matching funds remain credited to a restroom project for the Eagles Bluff Park overlooking the Cannelton Locks and Dam.

He received a call two weeks ago from an Indiana Department of Transportation engineer who's coordinating grant funding for the project, he told the county commissioners at their regular meeting Nov. 5. The engineer told him the commissioners need to sign a new agreement to replace one they signed in 2004.

"I almost choked when I saw what they had," he said in regard to the county share of the cost. "The new agreement didn't offer any match credits for the $166,000 we spent for land acquisition."

The project was originally intended to include a visitors center, for which the county's parks board was awarded a $704,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant. However, bids for the project opened in January 2005 all came in more than $400,000 over that.

Adams last appeared before the commissioners Oct. 22, to ask them to ratify signatures on the project agreement. INDOT was to have provided him the new agreement in time for the Nov. 5 commissioners meeting, but he didn't receive it.

Bids were to have been opened Nov. 22, he told the commissioners at their late-October meeting, "but they realized that's Thanksgiving," he said, and rescheduled it for Nov. 28.

Adams told the commissioners he provided proof of the match. As of Friday, he still hadn't received the agreement.

"We are in negotiation with INDOT on the match amount," he said. "We still don't have that number nailed down. Apparently, they are working to refine their policies and procedures on these programs, and they're trying to fit this pre-existing project into (them)."

The current estimate for the restroom construction, which includes the building, site work, installation of water and electric lines and rehabilitation of a driveway, observation deck, guardrail, paved walkway and half the existing parking lot, is just over $752,000.

INDOT is "moving away from allowing match credits," Adams told the commissioners, saying the agency is "strapped for cash, as everyone is," and looking for ways to shift financial loads to local entities pursuing projects.

He said Thursday, "it's not unusual for the numbers in this program to be in flux until a final agreement and a final construction contract are signed."

The commissioners voted to approve the agreement contingent on the costs within it being correct.