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November 2, 2012

New Albany parks plan presented

No change in programs for 2013, city would operate Sports Complex

NEW ALBANY — New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan released his strategy for the city operation of its own parks department late Thursday afternoon.

The New Albany City Council is slated to take the final vote Monday on dividing the city-county parks department. The measure is expected to pass after it was approved 6-3 during first and second readings last month.

Gahan’s push for the divide has been based in part because the city has funded the department by about $4 million more than the county since 2004.

Those opposed to the split of the New Albany-Floyd County Parks Department have criticized Gahan for not providing specific details of how the transition would work.

Among the highlights of the plan released Thursday, Gahan intends for the city to commit an additional $250,000 to improve parks annually while assuming control of operations, programs and leagues held at Cannon Acres and the Southern Indiana Sports Complex.

Gahan anticipates the city will assume operations and maintenance of 16 parks and will make no changes to employment through March of 2013. New Albany will establish a city parks board hopefully by December, and applications will be accepted from residents interested in serving.

Operations will continue as normal through the end of the year, according to the plan, but the administration requests the current parks board make no capital purchases with respect to vehicles, equipment or furniture.

The city has hired the firm Rodefer Moss & Company to analyze 2012 parks expenses. The information from the survey will be used for 2013 budgeting and planning, according to the administration.

The city is requesting New Albany and Floyd County assume control of the  properties that were originally deeded to each entity or their respective parks boards prior to the 1994 joint agreement.

According to the plan, that would mean five properties would not be in sole possession of the city or county by title: Campbell-Woodland Nature Trails, Cannon Acres, Griffin Street Park, Fairmont Park and the Southern Indiana Sports Complex.

The Sports Complex is deeded to the NA-FC Parks Department from the Blue Sky Foundation with a reversion clause stating the facility must be used for recreation or it goes back to the organization.

The city is proposing to take over responsibilities associated with running the leagues and events regularly held at the Sports Complex and the other co-owned facilities. The plan states that regardless of who is deemed to own the five properties, the city will “cooperate to support the facility and their future operations.”

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