By MATTHEW NASH
NEW ALBANY —
This time of year there are parts of my life that seem to slow down to a snails pace while other things are moving as fast as ever. When the holidays are in full swing, sometimes it is hard to concentrate on one topic when writing a column. This week I discuss a few topics that have been in the news over the last few weeks.
It seems that New Albany and Floyd County have come to an amicable agreement on the division of property as the end approaches for their joint parks department. The agreement which gives Floyd County possession of the Southern Indiana Sports Complex, also gives New Albany a parcel of land connected to Sam Pedan Community Park reportedly to develop an aquatic center at the site. While I am happy that they have come to an agreement, I am not completely sold on the idea of an aquatic center at Sam Pedan Community Park.
I have been complaining about the need for an outdoor aquatic center since the third column that I wrote. While other communities have opened new pools over the last several years, we let ours fall into disrepair and then be shuttered without a plan to build a new one. It is time for us to have plans put forward to build a new pool, but not at the expense of our limited green space within the confines of our city. I would hope that the plans to build a new pool will not infringe on the general footprint of the current park space.
I also believe that while we show some concern for green space we also do our best to preserve historical buildings whenever possible. As I understand the agreement, the city and county will split the cost of demolition on any buildings on the proposed site. Now I do not understand why they didn’t come out and say that they are planning on tearing down the building that for the last several years has been known as the North Annex. Floyd County was using it for offices until just a few months ago and now it has been boarded up.
I think that it is important that we do whatever is needed in order to keep this historic property from being destroyed. We have spent tens of thousands of dollars shoring up the building at corner of Eighth Street and Culbertson Avenue, after an entire wall had fallen, and without owning the building.
Another big topic that I have followed for the last few years that seems to be taking off is the building of the two new bridges across the Ohio River. A few weeks ago a contractor was chosen to build each span. Also over the last few weeks the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau along with the town of Clarksville and the city of Jeffersonville have each pledged $10,000 to fight the use of tolls to pay for the bridges on the Interstate-65 corridor. Their argument is that while an East End Bridge will lead to more economic development, the new downtown bridge does exactly the opposite.
One of the questions I have is why is there still no answer on the cost of the tolls? They know how much the bridges are going to cost. They have been studying the traffic for over a decade so they know how many cars are crossing the bridge. It seems to me that someone that has gone to college to study statistics should be able to give some estimate of what the cost of tolls would be by now. Why are the cost of tolls not being made public?
I seem to think that they are waiting until they get too far into the project to turn back and then will announce their final cost. I predict it will be closer to the original projection of $3 than 25 cents — a prediction that was announced before a New Albany City Council meeting a few years ago.
A year ago I wrote about tolls or the Ohio River Bridges Project. On the day that that column was published one of the members of the board that is overseeing the project sent me an email claiming there were seven inaccuracies in my column and he was willing to sit down and set the record straight. I agreed to meet him but he later withdrew when he realized that I would write about our conversation. I am still waiting for him to let me know what exactly those inaccuracies were.
Over the next few weeks while most people are consumed with the holiday season, our leaders will still be responsible for making some really important decisions. This includes local leaders as well as those we have chosen to lead our nation. These leaders need to make certain that the decisions they make are not based on what is easiest, but that they are making the right decision.
— Matthew Nash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org