(LINTON) - State funding has been released for the construction of a regional office and visitor's center for the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area near Linton.
Nick Schneider, of the Greene County Daily World reports, District 62 State Representative Matt Ubelhor says that he's pleased that nearly two years after ground was broken on the 4,800 square foot building the $3.04 million to construct the office and visitor's center has been finalized.
"The funding on Goose Pond is moving along very, very good. The funding has been released and I think they are going to doing the release for the bids about the first of August," Ubelhor announced to the Greene County Daily World. "It is in the architect's hands developing the final package of what it will look like...this is a big deal for our area."
Ubelhor continued, "These kinds of state dollars haven't been brought to District 62 in years, probably not since French Lick (casino) was developed. I'm very happy we've been able to get this. The community has rallied behind this project very well."
The Republican lawmaker from rural Bloomfield said it took two sessions of the Indiana General Assembly to get the bi-partisan bill passed that included the Goose Pond project funding.
The funding bill was co-authored by State Rep. Ubelhor, District 45 State Rep. Kreg Battles (D-Vincennes) and District 46 State Rep. Bob Heaton (R-Terre Haute).
District 39 State Senator John Waterman (R-Shelburn) carried the bill in the senate.
The funding was released late last month after it was signed by Gov. Mike Pence.
Ubelhor said the original plans have been scaled back slightly from it's original $3.5 million request, but essentially the project is the same with a few less frills.
Ground was broken for the project on Sept. 21, 2012 ground broken in a ceremony that was attended by then-governor Mitch Daniels.
The site overlooks the southwest part of the 8,000 acre Goose Pond FWA property off of County Road 400S.
The facility will include the Department of Natural Resources Southwest Regional Office and Visitor's Center
Conceptual drawings for the visitor's center include floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking the wetlands.
During the groundbreaking Gov. Daniels lauded what he called the "brave and persistent" group that worked so hard over the years to make the visitor's center a reality.
The DNR acquired the 8,000-plus acre Goose Pond property in 2005.
The governor called the groundbreaking a 'great day for Linton' and said, "I can't wait to see what it looks like when it is here. I can't wait to see when it is full of people, young and old, who will get their own sense of the obligation to protect places like this."
Ubelhor says the DNR office and visitor's center will be a catalyst for economic growth for the county and the region.
Linton Mayor John Wilkes is elated that the project is moving forward.
"I think it's great thing. I think we need it down there. It's going to be good for our area because it is going to pull people in and it's going to be an educational thing that we can have to take the young people down there and to take people down there. I just think it will be good for our area because I think that is what we are going to have to start promoting is the tourism, Wilkes said. "The Goose Pond is something that is there and we need to promote it. The birdwatching and that type of thing is a multi-billion business in the county."
Wilkes added, "It's growing down there. There are a lot of things that can be done down there to promote it. I'm glad it (the funding bill) finally got through. It was a battle to get it down. Our legislators and the governor worked on it. It took a lot of people to get it done."
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