News and Tribune

July 17, 2013

Council to vote on Town Clock Church funds

Private money has been raised to match public contribution

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY —

With the clock faces having been restored and reinstalled, the next big step for the Town Clock Church project is to replicate and replace the steeple atop the circa 1852 structure. 

The New Albany City Council will vote Thursday on a resolution requesting the release of $75,000 to foot the steeple replacement. 

The funds were earmarked in January for the project with the stipulation that matching private dollars would have to be raised before the public money would be released. 

Local architect and project volunteer Larry Timperman told the council earlier this month that the nonprofit Friends of the Town Clock Church has raised the matching funds, and Councilman John Gonder is calling for the city to put its $75,000 into the pot. 

“There’s still quite a bit more money that needs to be raised,” Gonder said, as officials estimated it could cost $400,000 to complete all the restoration efforts planned for the church. 

With an infusion of public dollars, the council and city may be able to spark more donations from private residents, businesses and organizations for the project, Gonder said. 

With the building’s ties to the Civil War and the Underground Railroad, restoring the church is an effort that should interest more than just historians and public officials, Gonder added. 

“I think it needs to be a community effort, not just big donors,” he said. 

Councilman Dan Coffey said this week he wants to see an itemized accounting list of how funds are being spent as well as who will receive the city’s money if it is released. 

“The bottom line is, we feel like any other organization that gives money, especially since we’re the government,” Coffey said. “We need to see how that money is being spent.” 

Second Baptist Church of New Albany worships in the Town Clock Church, and the congregation has taken an active role in fundraising for the project. 

While the church obviously has religious significance, Gonder said his purpose for pushing the city’s involvement in the project is based on the building’s historical importance. 

During a ceremony on Tuesday, the clock faces that were removed earlier this year for restoration were replaced. 

Beyond the steeple, there are plans to refurbish the doors and windows, as well as painting the structure. 

The resolution requesting the administration to release the public funds for the project is the only measure slated for a vote when the council convenes at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. 

The meeting will be held in the third-floor Assembly Room of the City-County Building, 311 Hauss Square.