By MATT KOESTERS
The Clarksville Town Council unanimously voted to contribute $10,000 to a legal fund to fight proposed tolls on the new downtown bridge and the Kennedy Bridge at its meeting Monday meeting.
The tolls will have a huge negative impact on the businesses and residents of Clarksville, said Councilman Paul Fetter, who brought the motion to establish the defense fund before the council. Fetter said that a study conducted by the Indiana Finance Authority predicted that over a 30-year period, bridge tolls would create a negative impact of $7.5 billion along the Interstate 65 corridor.
“Can Clarksville, which borders I-65 for seven miles from the river to Plum Run, can we take that kind of negative impact to our town’s businesses and our citizens? I don’t think so,” Fetter said. “Nothing’s been done to mitigate that for us. It’s just, ‘We’re going to do this. We’re going to get positive economic impact from the East End Bridge.”
Fetter said he doesn’t take issue with tolling on the East End Bridge, as it is new infrastructure. But the new bridge downtown will do nothing to mitigate traffic issues between Southern Indiana and Louisville, Fetter said.
“If you’re going to build that extra piece of infrastructure and create economic damage to our community, we should maybe re-evaluate,” Fetter said.
The enormous negative affect of tolls on bridges between downtown Louisville and Southern Indiana would hurt Clarksville, Council President John Gilkey said.
“If we have a significant negative impact on businesses in Clarksville and we start losing businesses, that’s going to be a blow that the town will have a lot of trouble absorbing,” Gilkey said. “It could profoundly impact tax rates throughout the town. We think it’s important to investigate the possibility of minimizing or eliminating those tolls and do that on the behalf of the people and businesses of the Town of Clarksville.”
Fetter is one of the co-founders of No 2 Bridge Tolls, an organization that has long opposed tolling on the downtown bridge. Fetter, general manager of Clark County Auto Auction, has said in the past that tolls would severely hurt his business.
ISGRIGG, GWYN RETURN
The council unanimously approved short-term contracts for former Council President Greg Isgrigg and former Town Attorney Sam Gwyn to help with the town’s ongoing sewer, wastewater and effluent-line projects.
Isgrigg and Gwyn will be paid $50 per hour. Both were brought on to fill in for project coordinator Brittany Montgomery, who is on maternity leave.
“So as to not create interruptions in those projects, they have agreed to come in ... and pick up some of that work for us,” Gilkey said.
COUNCIL APPROVES INTERLOCAL AGREEMENT
The council unanimously approved an interlocal agreement with Clark County for the maintenance of the overpass along Lewis and Clark Parkway over Brown’s Station Way.
Per the agreement, the county will own and perform regular maintenance on the overpass. Any work above what is considered routine maintenance would be paid for by the town.
The Clark County Commissioners will consider the matter at their meeting tomorrow, Town Attorney Chris Sturgeon said.
The council unanimously approved the purchase of a dump truck and a bucket hopper. The dump truck cost just more than $35,000, while the bucket hopper cost $189,000.
CLARKSVILLE GETS A GIFT
The council voted to accept a gift from Nancy Kraft, the wife of Councilman Paul Kraft. The gift — A 28-by-29-foot illuminating sign that proclaims “peace on earth.”