By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
Crews have started clearing properties to make way for a new fire station off Daisy Lane in New Albany.
The city has purchased multiple houses and lots to raze in order to construct an outdoor aquatic center and a firehouse at the former Camille Wright pool site.
David Duggins, director of economic development and redevelopment for the city, said Thursday the bulk of the pre-construction work on the properties being conducted this week is for the firehouse.
Crews have been able to save most of the mature trees on the site, and the area will have an improved aesthetic appearance once all of the work is completed, Duggins said.
The New Albany Redevelopment Commission agreed to pay back a loan of up to $5 million to construct the firehouse as well as to upgrade the Grant Line Road and Twin Oaks stations and to build a training tower.
Kroger is in the process of purchasing the Green Valley Road firehouse as part of an expansion project for its State Street shopping center.
The city is expected to net about $1.5 million by selling the Green Valley firehouse, and that sum will be used to pay down the construction loan.
There will be a shelter house, walking area and other outdoor amenities between the firehouse and aquatic center to give the complex an urban park-type feel, Duggins said.
“In my mind, kids will be able to swim and play then be able to walk over and look at the firehouse,” he said.
Officials have pegged a spring finish to construction of the fire station. By that time crews should also be busy building the aquatic center.
Duggins said the city will move forward on the swimming facility once construction plans are finalized later this year.
He confirmed the bond covering the project as well as the renovation of Binford Park and the construction of a multiuse recreational center off Silver Street totaled $19.6 million.
About $16.3 million of the bond will go directly to footing the projects, and the remaining funds will go to debt service and capital reserve accounts.
The aquatic center is slated to open during the summer of 2015. Duggins said the city is hopeful the new soccer fields at Binford Park and the multiuse center will be completed by the fall of 2014.
Mayor Jeff Gahan said a formal groundbreaking ceremony for the fire station construction will be planned, but in the interim, he’s pleased work has started on the site.
“It’s really been a complicated process up to this point, but we’ve really had a lot of cooperation from the City Council,” Gahan said, adding that he believes the public will be proud of the new additions to the city once they’re completed.
“We’re just really excited that the projects are moving forward.”