GREENCASTLE -- After a decade of worrying about the condition of Albin Pond Dam and struggling to find funds to fix it, the city got some good news Thursday.
Mayor Sue Murray received a letter from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) informing her the city is to receive a grant of $530,329 to fix the dam's problems.
With the grant, the city will only have to match 10 percent of the amount ($53,032.90), rather than shoulder the entire bill of nearly $600,000.
The project will include rebuilding the spillway so that it meets Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) criteria, flattening the upstream and downstream slopes so that they are more stable and repaving the roadway to current city standards, with curbs on both sides.
"It'll be a much nicer, safer and IDNR-permitted structure when we're done," City Engineer Garth Hughes said.
Hughes said the dam's history likely stretches back to the 19th century, when it wasn't a dam at all, but a land bridge built so the railroad could cross a valley. A culvert passing under the structure served as a crossing for a creek and for cattle.
In the early 1900s, the railroad closed and the path was converted to a county road. In the 1930s, the road was widened, the culvert closed and it became a dam. Albin Pond was born.
At this point, though, the dam does not meet IDNR specifications, particularly with the slope of its sides.
"Nothing about the dam -- as far as its slope, as far as its structural stability, as far as its capacity to carry stormwater -- meets the IDNR's current minimum criteria," Hughes said. "The city has been faced with the dilemma for probably 10 years of whether to do away with the dam and just remove the pond or to repair it.
"Either one was not something the neighbors or the city wanted to do because of the cost and because Albin Pond is a popular landmark in the area," he added.
The summer storms of 2008, though, revealed the problems of many dams and other structures in central and southern Indiana. While Putnam County avoided the catastrophic damage of places like Franklin, it still suffered its share of damage. Being a part of the affected area made Greencastle eligible for this program.
"Because of the storms of the summer of 2008 that damaged a lot of the dams in our area, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs set up this program for disaster recovery," Hughes said.
One aspect that further complicates the issues of the Albin Pond Dam is two water mains that run under Albin Pond Road, supplying water to Fillmore.
"If something were to happen and that were to fail and snap those two water lines, Fillmore would quickly be out of water," Hughes said. "And the cost to repair them would probably be double what it is. This will help that condition quite extensively."
Of the city's $53,000 commitment, Mayor Murray said much has already been spent on engineering costs and a breach analysis.
The grant money is divided between $515,079 for flood and drainage facilities and $15,250 for administration. Hughes said the work has to be done within 18 months, so the spring of 2012 is the likely date.
"The exciting part is, the city could not have afforded to make the repairs on its own. This grant gives us the opportunity to do so," Hughes said.
"It's good news for the community," he added. "It's something we've been waiting on for several years. It's pretty exciting."