By LISA MEYER TRIGG Editor
Two roads appear to be diverging for two Putnam County communities concerned about their infrastructure, but one of those areas is considering taking a road less traveled.
Residents of both VanBibber Lake and Heritage Lake appeared before the Putnam County Commissioners on Monday to talk about their internal issues ‹ mainly roads. But the VanBibber Lake contingent told commissioners Gene Beck, Dennis O'Hair and Kristina Warren that they are looking to incorporate their community into a town to better handle their own needs.
VanBibber Property Owners president Mike Wilson said a survey has been taken in the community to gauge resident interest and see what type of services the people there want.
"The community has grown so much that it needs to provide for constant fire protection and more police protection," Wilson said.
And the survey showed that residents ranked fire, police and better streets in that order of importance.
The community has abou 486 homes, with 350-plus full-time residents. The entire development has about 700 parcels of land, so there is still room for growth.
"I think this is a good idea," Commissioner O'Hair said.
County attorney Tim Bookwalter agreed.
"In this situation, you have all the problems that a town has," he said. Becoming its own town with taxing ability is a good way to afford improvements and maintenance of infrastructure.
"This would help us fund our own town marshal, fire protection, and do road improvements," Wilson agreed. The community already has water and sewer utilities, but some future projects are needed.
Monday's presentation to the commissioners was for information only. Wilson said he hopes the incorporation process can be completed by the fall. That would allow tax collections for the new town to begin in 2007.
Meanwhile, Heritage Lake residents also asked for help with crumbling roads and cul-de-sacs in their vast community.
While Heritage Drive has been paved by the county and is being maintained, the side streets are in various states of crumble and potholes.
County Highway Supt. David Sutherlin said it would take more than $100,000 in materials to patch the 20 miles of streets and culverts in Heritage Lake.
But with the tight financial status of the county, the commissioners agreed that there is no money to devote to one community.
"I drove about 100 miles in the county yesterday, and many of the roads were in terrible shape," Commissioner Beck said.
Many of the streets in Heritage Lake could be improved by patching, he said, but the county does not even have enough funding to do road striping on its main roads.
"We have three or four major roads that need work in the county, and we have held off due to funding," he said.
In the past, the commissioners have suggested that the community become incorporated as a town to raise its own revenue for road and utility projects. That issue, however, has not met with favorable response.
Meanwhile Monday, residents of a neighborhood near to Greencastle also presented their continued concerns about failing septic systems to the commissioners.
County Health Officer Dr. Robert Heavin told the commissioners his office continues to work on a solution for Greenbriar residents, but so far the solutions are costly.
The most recent estimate of a project to hook onto the City of Greencastle' sewer treatment system will cost around $90 per month for homeowners affected by the project. And, those residents have to agree not to fight future annexation into the city.
Some residents of the area are opposed to the project since their septic fields have not failed. However, two residences are at a critical point, and others are also failing.
"From a public health point of view, there's no question that they need sewer out there," Heavin told the commissioners.
Warren, O'Hair and Beck agreed to continue talks with city officials about working out an affordable solution for the Greenbriar residents