New Albany City Council focuses on pedestrian safety

Evening News and The Tribune, The (Jeffersonville, IN), 2014-08-04


Aug. 04 -- NEW ALBANY -- Two New Albany City Council members called for funding to add sidewalks along Slate Run Road , Captain Frank Road and other streets Monday.

With the city to begin 2015 budget work sessions in the coming weeks, Councilman John Gonder said it's time to get serious about installing pedestrian paths in known trouble spots.

Neither Slate Run Road or Captain Frank Road have sidewalks. Gonder lives off Captain Frank Road , and has previously raised concerns about pedestrians being forced into private yards to avoid being struck by vehicles on the street.

"I speak about this because I live there and I know it," said Gonder, as he added there are other streets in New Albany without adequate sidewalks.

Slate Run Road is located within Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Benedetti's district, and she's been outspoken in calling for sidewalks along that street.

"A lot of these streets, they're just not safe," she said Monday.

But the costs to pave those particular streets is somewhat prohibitive.

According to David Duggins , director of economic development and redevelopment for the city, purchasing rights-of-way to add sidewalks is the most expensive part of the potential projects.

The engineering firm Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz estimated it would cost $1.15 million to add a sidewalk on one side of Captain Frank Road .

Duggins said there are preliminary plans to expand the State Street tax-increment financing district, or TIF, to incorporate Kenzig Road , where Louisville Gas & Electric is undergoing a substantial project.

Such an expansion could capture Captain Frank Road and provide funding to foot a sidewalk project along the street, which feeds into the heavy commercial corridor at State Street .

Slate Run Road is already served by the Charlestown Road TIF district, and Duggins said there are plans to phase a sidewalk project there.

But it will be costly.

The initial estimate is that it will cost $4 million to add sidewalks from Charlestown Road to Slate Run Elementary School .

A more definitive strategy for Slate Run Road will likely be unveiled in early 2015, Duggins said.

He reminded the council that the TIF districts have several projects tied to them.

The city moved forward with a $19.6 million bond to add an aquatic center, recreational facility and other parks projects with the backing of TIF revenue, Gonder said.

The city should be able to find a funding source to keep pedestrians safe, he continued.

COUNTY MAY OWE CITY MONEY

The details were still murky as of press time, but New Albany City Controller Linda Moeller told the council Monday that apparently the city hasn't received its full allotment of tax funds from Floyd County .

Moeller said she couldn't confirm the potential amount, but added that the county had been notified about the issue, and that it appears to date back to 2006.

She indicated the city is anticipating a response from the county.

Shane Gibson , an attorney with the city's legal department, said the city didn't have a figure to release on how much it may be owed by the county. He did confirm that the source is from tax revenue, and not related to lack of payment on a joint agreement.

The sides had well publicized differences over funding shortfalls by the county related to the former joint parks department.

Moeller said if the city is owed tax revenue, it needs to recoup it especially with the 2015 budget set to be determined.

END OF ISP INVESTIGATION ANTICIPATED

New Albany Police Chief Todd Bailey said Monday the Indiana State Police is nearing the end of its investigation into complaints about the department.

There "should be some sort of determination in the next couple of weeks," Bailey told the council.

Bailey and Mayor Jeff Gahan asked the ISP to investigate issues including complaints brought by NAPD officer Laura Schook about the conduct of some officers.

The issues date back to 2010, and include claims that two officers were working for their private businesses while clocked-in for the NAPD.

Bailey said ISP investigation results will be announced once the report is completed.

NO ITEMS ON AGENDA

There were no ordinances or resolutions up for a vote during Monday's meeting.

The council did approve several tax abatements for area businesses and industries.

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