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Posted 12/17/2015

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By Katie Newton, public affairs

After three years of real estate negotiations over a landfill at the former Indiana Army Ammunition Plant (INAAP) in Jeffersonville, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District, has handed over a signed “mega-deed” to the River Ridge Development Authority (RRDA) for the landfill along with four desirable parcels.

The land transfer was a success for both the Department of the Army and the RRDA. USACE – the Army’s real estate agent – has been working since 2005 to get the excess Army property slated for RRDA transferred to the reuse authority for economic growth at the River Ridge Commerce Center. The total acreage conveyed prior to the impasse was approximately 4,820 acres with only about 1,119 acres remaining.

The deed, which was prepared by USACE, was signed by the director of real estate Sept. 30 and presented by Louisville District Commander Col. Christopher Beck to the RRDA at a ceremony Oct. 12. It didn’t come easy, though. It followed years of contentious negotiations about the landfill parcel remaining from INAAP, an Army ammunition manufacturing plant built in 1941 and subsequently placed in modified caretaker status in 1992.  The 45-acre landfill, which was used for dumping both solid and hazardous wastes was a concern to the recipient.

“There were valid concerns on both sides of the table,” said Veronica Hiriams, chief, real estate division, USACE Louisville District. “For RRDA they had concerns over the landfill, and the Army had concerns about leaving a remnant of land remaining on the books after all other parcels had been transferred.” 

USACE coordinated the interagency effort to come up with a solution. Parties to the transfer included the Department of the Army’s BRAC office and Environmental Law Division, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and RRDA. In addition, RRDA elicited the support of U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly and U.S. Representative Todd Young to meet their goals. The resolution was that if the landfill parcel was bundled with the other parcels more prime for development, RRDA would accept all five bundled parcels in the mega-deed, totaling approximately 830 acres. In addition to bundling the parcels, the Army agreed that USACE would conduct long-term monitoring of the landfill upon the transfer, which will entail quarterly, semi-annual, and annual sampling of the groundwater and surface water sources in the vicinity of the landfill. 

The purpose of the monitoring activities is to confirm the integrity of the landfill continues to meet regulatory requirements and that no release of hazardous substances has occurred,” said Chris Inlow, former INAAP project manager, USACE Louisville District. “To date, there has been no indication of any release, nor is one anticipated. However, as the original generator of the waste and because the waste remains in the landfill, the Army retains liability to ensure continued protection of human health and the environment to the surrounding communities.”

The agreement worked out for both parties involved. “This solution was the best option to ensuring the Army’s needs and the customer’s needs were met,” said Hiriams. “We were able to accelerate getting the deed signed since it was advantageous to us getting the property transferred out of Army control and for RRDA to be able to use the property immediately. It was a win-win solution for both of us in the end.” 

“Even though the issue itself was contentious, we still had a great partnership between RRDA and the Army,” said Hiriams. “We had to work together and partner with the recipient as well as the other parties involved. It was a total team effort. Everyone coming together was a big part of the success story of how we were able to quickly work it and get the deed signed.”

Additionally, USACE was glad to play a role supporting the economic boom associated with the finalization of the land transfer. “This transfer continued to enhance the economic development of Indiana,” said Hiriams. “As a result of this transfer there were immediate sales following.”

In addition to the economic development at the site previous land transfers managed by USACE have allowed for recreational activities at the former INAAP. 

“This mega-deed is just a piece of a lot of work that has taken place at the site,” said Jackie Preston, chief, real estate, military branch, “All of it isn’t going to be industrial use, some of it was for recreation. A lot of what we have already turned over went to the State of Indiana for development as a park.” 

From 2005 to the present there have been a total of 5,651 acres transferred at INAAP including the mega-deed. The land transfers at INAAP are still ongoing, but will be complete in 2016 when the last piece—a remaining parcel of approximately 288 acres—is transferred. 

“There are still ongoing actions there because the phased disposal process is long and multifaceted, but the transfer of the mega-deed was a significant piece,” said Hiriams.

The team who worked on making the land transfer happen included Karla Wright, real estate project lead; Jackie Preston, real estate quality assurance; Lisa Patrick, office of counsel; Scott Giller and Jason Meyer, cadastral support and Chris Inlow who provided environmental advice and ensured maintenance of positive customer relations with the facility manager on site. The team was recognized with a certificate of appreciation for their efforts. 

“It couldn’t have been done without this team,” said Hiriams, “It was the collection of their historical knowledge, sound relationships, quality checks and everybody working together in order to make this happen.”