Jeffersonville, Ind. – A long-standing dispute over land in Southern Indiana that was once home to an Indiana Army ammunition plant has been settled after years of negotiations.
Yesterday the U.S. Army agreed to hand over major land parcels to River Ridge Commerce Center, a massive economic center predicted to bring thousands of new jobs to the region.
Indiana U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly used his local and Washington D.C. connections to help broker the deal. Donnelly has been a key leader during the preceding months of intense negotiations, bringing together the River Ridge Board, the Army, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Louisville, IDEM, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and community stakeholders and leaders to revive stalled discussions and address community concerns.
“This is a great day for the River Ridge Commerce Center and our local communities. River Ridge has grown into a significant economic driver for southeast Indiana, bringing new businesses and jobs into our communities. This land transfer will help bring more jobs and opportunity to Clark County, spurring continued economic growth in a way that protects the health and safety of Hoosiers,” Donnelly said. “I’m the hired help and was pleased I could help facilitate negotiations and play a role in making sure River Ridge could attract new business and proceed with projects that will fuel economic growth. Over the past year, I have been grateful to work with extraordinary partners, including River Ridge, Army headquarters, the Army Corps, and IDEM, who all worked tirelessly to ensure a positive outcome.”
Jerry Acy, River Ridge Development Authority Executive Diretor welcomed the agreement.
“Today marks a major milestone in the transfer of Army property to the River Ridge Development Authority (RRDA) for the purpose of replacing the loss of economic activity as a result of the shutdown of the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant,” he said. ““With this transfer of approximately 830 acres, there are only 285 acres remaining. The 285 will complete the transfer of the total 6,000 acres in 2016. The RRDA has already achieved significant success in locating major companies to our Commerce Center resulting in over 7,000 new jobs and generating over $1.3 billion in total economic impact for the State of Indiana. The current 830 acres will greatly enhance our marketing efforts since almost 80% of those acres are located between State Road 62 and the new Interstate 265 interchange scheduled to open by October 2016. We expect to continue attracting new corporate investments and many thousand more new jobs to southeastern Indiana in the years to come.”
Donnelly and his staff have worked closely with the River Ridge Development Authority for more than a year. After stalled negotiations and repeated attempts to resolve community concerns about the landfill through federal legislation, Donnelly began working with the River Ridge Development Authority on a new round of talks with the Army in September 2014. River Ridge had an opportunity for the first time to share their concerns with the defense oversight committees in Congress, and in the following months, Donnelly continued to facilitate meetings to narrow down issues and address each side’s concerns.
In April 2015, Donnelly convened a meeting at the River Ridge Commerce Center with federal, state, and local stakeholders to discuss the status and future of the River Ridge Commerce Center. Since then, Donnelly facilitated talks among River Ridge, the Army, EPA, and IDEM to address concerns about potential public health and environmental risks associated with the landfill.