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April 6, 2012

With bond approved, New Albany utility moving forward with drainage plans

NEW ALBANY — Equipped with a $6 million bond, the New Albany Stormwater Board will likely seek engineering proposals for 15 drainage projects with the hope construction will start this year on some of the improvements.

On Monday, the New Albany City Council approved on final reading the sale of  $6 million in bonds for the projects. The vote ended a lengthy process that stretched several months after the utility alerted the council late last year it desired the 20-year financing package so that multiple projects could be completed within a short time frame.

But as flooding has become more of a prominent issue in recent years, numerous public meetings and council work sessions were held on the bond before it was ultimately approved this week.

“We probably touched a few more bases than we would have otherwise,” said Gary Brinkworth, stormwater board vice chairman, of the bond process.

The utility conceded some of its authority by agreeing to bring projects before the council for consideration before they are funded through the stormwater board.

While the bond is expected to cover about 10 projects, Brinkworth said the utility agreed to seek engineering proposals for 15 drainage improvements in case some of the additional work can be funded with the $6 million.

He added having engineering plans for 15 projects will provide options for the council and utility in case there’s deliberation over which improvements should be funded.

Brinkworth said he generally favors sticking to the most recent stormwater master plan, which was approved by the council and utility and primarily calls for drainage improvements along the Falling Run Creek watershed.

“Our top priorities are going to be the detention basins, that’s going to give us the most bang for our buck,” he said. “We’ll solve more problems with building detention than we will by replacing pipe anywhere.”

The basin project for Castlewood Drive was rated as the top priority in the master plan, and it was completed last year. The next project in line is an estimated $1.13 million improvement along Vincennes Street.

Construction is expected to stake $5 million of the $6 million bond. Engineering and the cost to sell the bonds will be the primary expenses covered by the remaining $1 million.

Though some larger scale projects would likely still require a private firm to design, Councilmen Dan Coffey and Bob Caesar have maintained the city needs a full-time engineer.

The city has been without an engineer since Tim Marinaro was let go more than a year ago. Coffey said recently the council appropriated money in the past to hire an engineer, and that he still supports the expense.

A city defined as second class in terms of its population size requires a full-time engineer, Caesar said.

“The city of New Albany needs an engineer desperately,” he said. “From the sewer department to the stormwater department, just all the way around, it would be just a big, big help.”


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