By BRADEN LAMMERS
WASHINGTON, D.C. —
Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., introduced legislation Wednesday to help clear the way for development at River Ridge Commerce Center along Ind. 62.
The legislation mirrors a similar bill introduced this year by Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., as part of the National Defense Authorization Act and helps clear the way for economic development at military installations that have been closed outside the normal Base Realignment and Closure process.
The 6,000-acre River Ridge Commerce Center fits the criteria and is being developed on the former Indiana Army Ammunition Plant site that extends from Jeffersonville into Charlestown.
“River Ridge is a promising economic development opportunity that could help boost the local economy and create jobs in Southern Indiana,” Coats said in a press release. “This bill will provide potential job creators at locations like River Ridge the same insurance protections granted to developers and businesses on all other closed military installations. I am pleased to join Rep. Young in this effort and will work with my colleagues to get the legislation approved in the Senate.”
According to the release, businesses that redevelop military installations closed under BRAC guidelines are given indemnification or protection from legal action and costs associated with previous Department of Defense activities. The northern section of the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, which is now the Charlestown State Park, closed under the 1988 BRAC process, but the southern portion was shut down by the Department of Defense outside of the normal BRAC process.
As a result, the southern portion of the plant, which is reserved for economic development by the state and county through the River Ridge Development Authority, is not guaranteed protection from issues that may arise. This legislation would solve that problem by ensuring all property owners of land formerly used as a military installation are indemnified by the Department of Defense.
“I’m excited to partner with Sen. Coats on this effort, and his support brings River Ridge one step closer to fulfilling its job creation potential,” Young said in the release. “As our office has worked with River Ridge officials for the last year to make the site more enticing to future employers, it has become clear that this is one of the best economic development opportunities in the state. Senator Coats’ help in shepherding this House-passed legislation through the Senate will help bring more jobs more quickly to southern Indiana.”
Following the introduction of Young’s legislation earlier this year, River Ridge Executive Director Jerry Acy said the legislation provides the development authority additional environmental protection and indemnification if some future tenant discovers contamination and puts a lot more urgency on the federal government to clean up the site.