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Officials try to block power lines from Indiana state park

November 10, 2018

BATTLE GROUND, Ind. (AP) — Lafayette-area officials are urging a state agency to find an alternative to plans for running power lines through a replica of a nearly century-old working farm.

West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis said he recently met with Gov. Eric Holcomb to echo pleas from the Farm at Prophetstown, the nonprofit replica farm at Prophetstown State Park, the Journal & Courier reported. The state Department of Natural Resources is considering where to place Duke Energy utility lines that need to be moved as part of the development of a lake near the state park’s entrance in Battle Ground.

The state is considering three routes to relocate the power lines — two of which are along state-owned property and one along private property. Farm officials were told that cheapest route runs through its site.

Dennis said that Holcomb “offered to help where he could.”

“The story of our local history is as important to our community as the story of our business success and our high quality of life,” Dennis said. “It’s a big deal.”

Farm at Prophetstown group has leased 125 acres at Prophetstown since the state park opened in 2004.

“What I’m seeing is that every photograph ever taken at the farm is going to be ruined,” said Steve Dietrich, the group’s board president. “Once this is done, if it is done, the farm is never going to be the same.”

Resident Gary Wolfelt lives along a row of homes between the private property and the road the state recently built to access the Prophetstown State Park entrance. One of the state’s options would be to run the power lines along the back of the properties.

He suggested putting the lines underground.

“It seems like a relatively small amount of extra money to do this as compared to all of the money spent to make the park look like a park,” Wolfelt said.

Republican state Sen. Ron Alting of Lafayette said he discussed the issue with Department of Natural Resources officials and believes that “they want to do what is right.”

“Going over (the Farm at Prophetstown), this is not an option that will give the DNR the best look,” Alting said. “But it all comes down to the money. It always does.”

DNR spokesman Marty Benson declined to give details about the timetable and options available for moving the power lines.

“DNR is working with all parties — including local and state partners, along with the utility — to identify the best solution,” Benson said.

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Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com

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