KAVAS helps citizens confront issues with Vissing Park in Jeffersonville
Last winter, KAVAS joined with residents of Clark County in a legal complaint against the City of Jeffersonville for the illegal clearcutting of trees in Vissing Park in Jeffersonville. According to a recent City Parks Plan, Vissing Park was intended to be a forested preserve in perpetuity. However, without notifying anyone, without getting needed permits, and without much apparent thought at all, Mayor Tom Galligan had the park clear cut to make way for a massive ballpark complex. Working with Attorney Matt Lorch, Jason Flickner of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, and neighbors to the park, KAVAS joined in a letter to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) notifying of our intent to sue over the City’s actions .
The State had already noticed the violations, but would likely have swept them under the rug as is common with violations by other public entities. However, our involvement forced the DNR to be more diligent than they would have and major changes have been forced upon the Mayor’s plans. The project has been reduced by at least half. Buffering has been promised for the neighbors and for the impacted streams. Walking paths and restoration of much of the logged area is now planned.
The large, clear-cut area in Vissing Park was covered with snow last winter just days after the trees had been removed. Once a forested park, the park habitat has been greatly reduced with even understory vegetation removed from the areas where trees were not removed.
Unfortunately, the wildlife habitat and forested preserve are mostly gone. Gone also is an incredible amount of money from Jeffersonville’s coffers that could have been spent much more wisely. Jeffersonville is now faced with developing a difficult site for ballfields that will ultimately cost three times as much as it would have cost if the City had just bought new, more suitable property.
Legal action is unpleasant for all involved. However, citizens must be willing to confront those who would violate the laws which exist for our common good. KAVAS is willing to do that, and we are proud to have made a positive impact in this unfortunate situation. Our thanks to Attorney Matt Lorch for his generous contribution of time, the citizens of Jeffersonville who stood up to this abuse of power, and Jason Flickner who did much of the leg work in advancing our cause. If you have any questions about this issue, please contact David Coyte at firstname.lastname@example.org.