By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY — Though Mayor Jeff Gahan has a plan on the table, New Albany Little League is moving forward with its own proposal to construct a new baseball facility.
Northside Christian Church has announced it is in negotiations to sell a portion of its Charlestown Road property to New Albany Little League for new fields. In a response issued late Saturday, Little League officials said establishing a larger baseball complex has been a more-than-30-year process.
“New Albany Little League Baseball has found a home that not only will triple the number of playing fields for our kids, but will also serve as an incredible backdrop for green space in an under-served park community,” read the statement, which was issued by New Albany Little League President Mark Boone.
The Little League Park is currently located off Mount Tabor Road, but parking, congestion and safety issues have led to a renewed push in recent years to build a new facility.
Last month, Gahan announced the city had plans to construct a Little League park as part of a bond issue that would also include new soccer fields and an aquatic center.
The former Hoosier Panel site off Silver Street had been discussed by the city as a possible location for a Little League park. The city’s project is estimated to cost up to $5 million.
Little League officials have said the organization’s proposal is less expensive, though an exact cost hasn’t been released.
Both the city and New Albany Little League submitted grant requests to the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County last year for the projects.
Gahan said Sunday Little League’s desire to move forward with a new facility is overall “good news”, but he cautioned there are issues that need to be resolved.
Administration officials met with Boone last week and expressed their concerns with the Northside Christian location because, for one, it’s in a flood plain, Gahan said.
He added he wants to ensure a new facility is accessible to all, fits the needs of the organization now and in the future, and will generate community pride.
“We’ll definitely be having some more discussions. As a whole, I view it as a positive,” Gahan said. “We’re going to continue to monitor and assist where we can, and our role will be to make sure they have a facility that can again service the needs of the city of New Albany.”
Gahan added the city’s plan will not be abandoned until at least the administration is convinced the Northside Christian location — which is near the Interstate 265 interchange off Charlestown Road — meets the criteria for hosting a large recreational facility.
When Boone met with the city last week, he did request public aid in funding the project, Gahan said.
In the organization’s news release, Boone dubbed the Little League effort “Project Team-Building”, and said it will be a community-wide effort. He said more details will be released in coming weeks on the organization’s website, www.nallb.com.