Board OKs purchase of home threatened by erosion


A purchase agreement for the first of five properties along Wayne Avenue threatened by the erosion of Sugar Creek was approved Wednesday.

Members of the Crawfordsville Board of Public Works & Safety voted 3-0 to purchase the home of James and Brenda Belcher at 700 Wayne Ave. in the amount of $96,500. Once the real estate transaction is finalized, the city will have 90 days to raze the structure.

The purchase was made possible from a $582,076 grant the city was awarded last year by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security as part of the Building Resilient Infratructure and Communities grant. The grant provides 75% of the funding for the project, and is matched with $194,027 in local funds for a total of $776,103. These funds are being used to purchase homes and properties that are in imminent danger due to the high-bank erosion being caused by the creek.

Two neighborhoods in Crawfordsville, Wayne Avenue and Sugar Cliff, have been threatened by the high-bank erosion for many years. A portion of Wayne Avenue was closed to traffic more than a decade ago, and a residential lot has fallen into the creek due to the erosion.

In 2019 the Indiana Department of Natural Resources funded a Sugar Creek Channel Stability and Flood Risk Assessment for the city. The study evaluated geological conditions along with creek levels to project the future impact area of erosion. Based on this data and predictions, at-risk properties were identified and classified in three levels of priority. The properties covered by this grant award were those identified as being at the highest risk of collapse into the creek in the coming years and all are along Wayne Avenue.

Upon completion of this grant, the city will be eligible to apply for funding to mitigate the risk to those properties identified in the next priority level, some of which are also along Wayne Avenue as well as Sugar Cliff Drive.

Participation in the program is voluntary. Affected property owners are given the option of selling their property for the appraised amount. If an owner chooses to participate, the property is purchased with the grant funding and all structures on the property will be razed. A permanent deed restriction will prohibit future sales or building on the property.

In other business, the board:

• Approved a request from the wastewater department to declare three vehicles as surplus and prepre them for auction.

• Approved an annual agreement with Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana in the amount of $6,000 for services.

• Approved an agreement between the city and Indiana American Water regarding the U.S. 231 South extension project.