News and Tribune

February 12, 2013

NA-FC moves to buy properties

Residents voice concerns

By JEROD CLAPP
jerod.clapp@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — Approval to purchase a home along Shelby Street was given by the board at the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp.’s board meeting on Monday, but not without some opposition from local homeowners.

The board voted 6-1 to purchase the home with Rebecca Gardenour, board member, opposing. Brad Snyder, deputy superintendent, said the acquisition of the home would be the first of many on Shelby Street to expand parking and provide some traffic ease for New Albany High School.

Gary Flispart, a resident on Shelby Street, said he only learned of the purchase in the last day before the meeting and said he didn’t think the plan was publicly viewable.

He said many people who purchase homes in the area intend to be there in the long-haul, but doesn’t think anyone wants to buy just to have the home purchased from them and torn down.

“Keep it open, discuss it with us and discuss the costs overall,” Flispart said. “Have a plan and inform us so we know. People don’t invest a bunch of money trying to fix things that are going to be ripped to the ground in the next year.

Greg Sekula, director of the Indiana Landmarks Southern Regional Office, also raised concerns about how much the district was paying for the property. He said it sold for $18,150 on Dec. 12 in a real estate auction. The district intends to purchase the home for $31,500. 

“I find it reprehensible that the school corporation is considering this expansion for something that is not integral to the education of our students,” Sekula said.

Gardenour wanted to know if the district could get involved in auctions to purchase properties at more discounted rates than they could from private sellers.

“It makes me sad that maybe we could have gotten this property for a lot cheaper than what’s being presented tonight,” Gardenour said. “I know that’s a hassle, but could there be something [to monitor those sales]?”

Fred McWhorter, chief business officer, said it’s possible school corporations can purchase those properties at those sales, but he’d review Indiana Code and the district’s policies to make sure.

Gardenour said more direct contact with local homeowners could help avoid any concerns from the neighborhoods they’re purchasing property from.

“I would like to see more communication with people who live in that neighborhood, I think we owe that to them to give them some input,” Gardenour said. “The people want to have participated, especially if it’s going to have an effect on their properties.”

But Mark Boone, board member, said the district has actively sought properties along near the high school, but it’s been no secret they’ve wanted to purchase more space for the school.

The board also gave Snyder permission to consider the purchase of 8780 Highway 64.