News and Tribune

April 11, 2013

EXECUTIVE REPORT: Southern Indiana mayors, leaders discuss local issues during 1si event

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — Bridges, budgets and business — the executive leaders of New Albany, Jeffersonville, Clarksville and Charlestown all face similar challenges.

During a Wednesday luncheon hosted by One Southern Indiana, the leaders discussed pressing issues and touted progress made in their communities as New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan, Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore and Clarksville Town Council President Bob Polston spoke during the event.

Bridges and infrastructure were the focal topics discussed by the Clark County leaders. Hall and Moore were asked about the construction of the Ohio River Bridges Project and the affect it will have on Charlestown and Jeffersonville.

Hall said there’s not one specific area to focus on when it comes to preparing for the bridges, but that the region as a whole must be ready to deal with all aspects of growth that will come with the project, both economic and in terms of population.

He likened the current era of the coming bridge additions and the boom of the River Ridge Commerce Center to the 1940s when the former Indiana Army Ammunition Plant opened and Charlestown’s population quickly grew.

“There is so much opportunity and future for this area,” Hall said.

The bridges project has international companies eyeing Jeffersonville, Moore said.

“We are in a very, very good situation,” he said.

The Big Four Bridge project, which is slated to be finished in August, will also serve as a quality-of-life enhancement for the community while also improving business in Southern Indiana, Moore said.

The pedestrian bridge will connect Jeffersonville with Louisville’s Waterfront Park, and on a bigger scale, will serve as a link along the Ohio River Greenway with Clarksville.

“I can’t imagine having a better asset dropped in our lap than the Big Four Bridge,” Moore said.

He added that Jeffersonville has received commitments from multiple restaurants looking to open downtown near the bridge ramp and surrounding park.

Though he didn’t provide specific names, Moore said the goal is to create an “ethnic flair” of eateries in downtown Jeffersonville.

He pointed to the success New Albany has enjoyed over the past five years in attracting new and diverse restaurants to its downtown and said Jeffersonville hopes to produce a similar scene.



NEW ALBANY NEWS

Since his term began as mayor in 2012, Gahan has privatized New Albany’s ambulance service, brought sewer management back in-house and supported the end of the joint parks agreement the city had with Floyd County.

“I think last year, we had a very strong year in terms of making New Albany competitive,” Gahan said.

His administration has sought to make New Albany cleaner and fiscally stronger while improving basic utility and operational fundamentals, Gahan said. For the first time in nearly a decade, the city’s budget was balanced in 2012, and now New Albany is in a position to add an outdoor aquatic center and a multiuse sports facility, he continued.

The goal will be to continue to improve parks, city gateways and public service while also focusing on redeveloping parts of New Albany that have recessed in recent years, Gahan said.

“It’s incredibly important that we invest public dollars to restore some of those areas,” he said.



CLARKSVILLE AND VALUE CITY

Polston was asked about negations between the town and Clarksville Community Schools about a proposed partnership that would entail a New Tech High School facility being opened in the former Value City building.

Despite recent comments made by Clarksville Redevelopment Commission President Bob Popp that the facility could take students away from Greater Clark County Schools, Polston said a meeting this week with Clarksville Community Schools’ representatives was productive. The town council still must decide on the partnership, but Clarksville Community Schools has vowed that they will have a New Tech facility opened by August 2014.

Though he didn’t provide specifics from the meeting, Polston said he’s “90 percent sure” the New Tech High School will come to fruition.

“It’s going to be an asset for Clarksville,” Polston said.

For more on the New Tech plan in Clarksville via past articles, visit newsandtribune.com and search for “New Tech.”

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