By BRADEN LAMMERS
It’s likely to become a question for neighbors — deal with construction for four to six weeks or have five days of nonstop roadwork outside their windows.
The option is expected to be presented to neighbors of the Woehrle Youth Athletic Complex.
Matt Gullo, with Kovert Hawkins, presented the options to the Parks Authority earlier this week to reconstruct Charlestown Pike. As part of the project to construct the Woehrle complex, road improvements include: Installing 100-foot turn lanes on Charlestown Pike in both directions into the complex and adding a left turn lane off of Charlestown Pike into Creekstone Ridge; plans to move the main entrance to the park to line up with Silver Slate Drive; flattening out a rise in the road to improve sightlines.
The estimated cost for the road work was $500,000.
Gullo said while there is no difference in cost, the two options proposed were: Shut down the road for five days, allowing the contractor to work 24-hours-a-day to complete the road project; or follow a more traditional road construction plan, with lane restrictions, but not closing down the road for four to six weeks.
Gullo said if the parks authority wanted to have the work completed this year, they would have to have an answer soon. If it gets too far into the winter months, the asphalt plants will cease production and the project would have to shut down until the spring.
There were several other concerns for the parks authority, including what kind of impact the road closure or restriction would have on traffic with other area routes also being restricted. There construction work taking place on Ind. 62 near Ind. 265 because of the ongoing work for the Ohio River Bridges Project.
But the larger concerns for the parks authority were the impact to the neighborhoods off of Charlestown Pike, how the residents would feel about a 24-hour construction schedule and potential concerns about public safety.
Parks Authority Vice President Matt Owen questioned whether or not police and fire departments would have adequate access with the road closed. That question was answered by public safety officials at the Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday.
Jeffersonville Police Chief Chris Grimm suggested shutting the road down from Utica-Sellersburg Road to Veterans Parkway and open the road to local traffic only during the suggested five-day closure.
Parks Authority Member Bryan Glover suggested that if the city opts to close down the road for five days, it could wait until spring break 2014, so that would be less of an impact on residents and school bus routes. By entertaining the construction next spring, it would also allow the city to host a public meeting to hear what the preference is of the neighborhoods affected.
No date was set for a neighborhood meeting, but city officials said they would schedule one before a decision on the road construction is made.
ICE RINK FUNDING PROMISED
To help pay for an ice skating rink to return to downtown Jeffersonville for the third year, the parks authority — which is also the city council — agreed to chip in $25,000, but did not officially dedicate the funding.
A financial report released in March showed operating the rink cost the city more than $75,000 last winter. To pay its expenses this year, Sara Schutz, director of special events and the RiverStage for the parks department, requested $25,000 from the city’s Redevelopment Commission and Urban Enterprise Zone, as well as the city council. Combined with the rink admissions, the expectation is that the venture would break even.
Last year’s ice rink expenses far outweighed the money dedicated to the attraction — the same amount dedicated for this year — and the revenues received.
Schutz said the losses were largely due to a drop in revenues because of bad weather. It was cited as a major factor because out of the 13 weather days where the rink was forced to close, the majority were Saturdays and Sundays, the biggest revenue days for the rink, Schutz said.
“The first year we brought in $75,000 in revenue, last year we brought in $50,000,” she said. “I would expect we will bring in $50,000 or more this year.”
Another Jeffersonville attraction that was expected to help boost revenues for the rink, but that will not have an impact, is the Big Four bicycle and pedestrian bridge. When the actual cost and revenue returns were presented to the parks authority in March, it was anticipated that the Big Four Bridge ramp would be open this winter, allowing Louisville residents to have easy access to the ice skating rink.
However, the bridge ramp into Indiana is not expected to open until 2014.
Despite the loss in potential revenues, Schutz said she still expects the amount the rink brings in will bounce back.
“We will still have people that come over from Louisville,” she said. “I really wasn’t basing that number on the bridge because I wasn’t sure if it would be open,” she said of the anticipated revenues.
The parks authority verbally agreed to pay the $25,000, which is expected to be dedicated by an official vote at the next city council meeting.
The rink is scheduled to open the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29, and remain open into January. It will be located near the corner of Spring and Market streets in downtown Jeffersonville, the same location as last year.