NEW ALBANY —
It should be a busy evening for the New Albany City Council on Thursday, as it’s slated to take action on measures to expand the city’s sewer jurisdiction and to strengthen its property codes.
There will also likely be a discussion about the future of the downtown New Albany Farmers Market when the council convenes at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
The council budgeted $270,000 this year to construct a second building with bathrooms and storage space at the farmers market site, which is located at the corner of Bank and Market Streets. However the lowest bid for the project received by the city was $321,000, and some council members have taken exception to the plan.
Councilman John Gonder has suggested moving the farmers market to the ground level of the downtown parking garage off Market Street. The move would give the market essentially double the space without costing the city as much money, and it would free up the publicly owned property at the corner of Bank and Market Streets for redevelopment, Gonder said last week.
“I think it would raise visibility for the parking garage,” Gonder added.
Develop New Albany operates the farmers market, and the lead organizer, Susan Kaempfer, told the News and Tribune last week that she opposed the idea of moving to the parking garage.
There’s not a measure on the agenda tonight related to the farmers market, but vendors, officials and members of the public are expected to discuss the issue tonight.
Mayor Jeff Gahan’s administration really hasn’t taken a position on the matter. The money was included in the budget, but council members in the past have backed an expansion of the market.
When the issue was discussed last week during a New Albany Redevelopment Commission meeting, David Duggins, director of economic development and redevelopment for the city, said the administration would be willing to research other proposals for the market, including moving it to the parking garage.
Duggins said the bids were accepted by the city for the expansion only because the administration felt that’s what the council wanted.
Sewer power play?
Basing the move on an Indiana Court of Appeals decision reached in December, Gahan’s administration is calling for the city council to approve a measure that will expand New Albany’s sewer utility jurisdiction.
The court essentially ruled that a municipality is allowed to claim control of sewer services within four miles of its boundary as long as it is the first entity to reserve the right.
The council will need to approve an ordinance stating its intention to claim the four-mile jurisdiction, and the measure is set to be introduced tonight.
“This would definitely set a pretty high standard for anybody that wanted to enter the market and compete,” Gahan said Wednesday.
The ordinance has already gotten the attention of neighboring communities. On Monday, Georgetown Town Engineer Bob Woosley said he would seek more information from New Albany officials about what the move would mean.
Georgetown recently opened a new wastewater treatment facility. Woosley told the Georgetown Town Council Monday he’s concerned there could be an overlap in sewer boundaries.
“There needs to be a working relationship” between Georgetown and New Albany, Woosley said.
The town and New Albany have a somewhat clouded history when it comes to sewer service. At the request of the state, New Albany essentially waived a $450,000 penalty in 2010 for Georgetown that was to be charged if the town remained on the city’s sewer service.
Gahan said Wednesday that New Albany has invested more than $260 million in its sewer utility over a century, and that the city has the resources to maintain a healthy and cost-effective system.
“I would think not only Georgetown but the rest of the county would be happy to see us move forward with this because it brings clarity to the various jurisdictions out there,” he said.
The move is more about setting the parameters to stave away any future disputes, Gahan continued. He said he doesn’t foresee any customers having to make a decision between Georgetown or New Albany sewer service.
“That’s certainly not our intention,” Gahan said. “We’re just adopting the state statute to bring clarity to the territory.”
The ordinance will require three readings, and the first two ballots are slated for tonight.
Property codes measure
There’s also a lengthy ordinance set to be introduced by Councilman Kevin Zurschmiede tonight that would have New Albany adopt “international property maintenance code standards.”
The ordinance states that current property codes and regulations are outdated, and that updating the books will result in streamlining enforcement efforts.
The meeting will be held in the third-floor Assembly Room of the City-County Building.