Granger residents outraged over proposed County Highway Maintenance garage
GRANGER, Ind. (WNDU) - UPDATE: The St. Joseph County Parks Department will not vote on this measure at the March Parks Board meeting. The March Parks Board Meeting will happen at 9 a.m. at the Brown Barn on Tuesday, March 21, at St. Patrick’s County Park.
It will be further discussed at the April meeting and has the opportunity to continue until May.
The April meeting will be held on April 18 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Nature Center West Wing in New Carlisle (56960 Timothy Road).
The May meeting will be held May 16 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Moat Room at Baugo Station in Osceola (57057 Ash Road).
The County Commissioners are also planning a community meeting to discuss the proposal further.
Stay with 16 News Now as we continue to follow this developing story.
Hundreds of Granger residents gathered at McGann Hay Funeral Home to reject a proposal for a County Highway Maintenance garage to be constructed near the intersection of Anderson and Beech roads.
“We’re concerned about the drinking water,” says Granger resident Emily Trausch. “We’re concerned about the environment. We’re concerned about wildlife, and we feel like we’re not being heard.
Do residents have a valid reason to be concerned? Local scientists think they just might.
“This area is unique in that it is very susceptible to groundwater contamination,” says geologist J.C. Sporleder. “You’ve got a level of water that is only a few feet, you’ve got a soil type that will not protect it, so anything that falls on the surface is going to hit the groundwater.”
Granger residents tell 16 News Now that they want a local park to be proud of, but they would rather forgo the new park if it meant keeping the maintenance garage from being built.
“The health of the people that live here should be first and foremost a priority,” Trausch added. “It’s not worth any sacrifice or park. As much as we want the park, it’s just not worth it to potentially endanger the health of citizens.”
The proposal is to have these projects linked, but officials with the County Parks Department tell 16 News Now that there might be alternatives.
“They’ve pretty much linked them,” says St. Joseph County Parks Board President Larry Catanzarite. “Now, can we unlink it? We can unlink it, we can vote it down, and we probably don’t get the money for the park. Now, we’ve got some people that said, I’m making some calls. We can get the money and unlink it and step back and see if we can find a more reasonable place to put this.”
Residents tell 16 News Now that they feel deceived by this new proposal.
“None of the residents I talked to, or my wife talked to, knew anything about a maintenance garage being built,” says local attorney Spence Walton. “We knew about a park and welcomed it. That was in the newspaper in October, but nothing in there about any maintenance garage.”
However, 16 News Now reported in September 2022 that seven acres would be “allocated for a satellite maintenance facility for St. Joseph County highway trucks and plows.”
The proposed funds ($2.7 million combined) would come from American Rescue Plan funds, but the maintenance garage would be built before the park.
The County Commissioners oversee the County’s ARP funds and how they are allocated throughout the county.
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