By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
Floyd County will retain the Southern Indiana Sports Center and New Albany will receive a portion of Sam Peden Community Park to possibly use for an aquatic center per an agreement reached between the parties Tuesday.
The sides have been negotiating the disbursement of property and funds since the New Albany City Council voted to proceed with Mayor Jeff Gahan’s plan to form a separate municipal parks system earlier this month. One of the main issues to resolve was which side would operate the Southern Indiana Sports Center, which was donated to the New Albany-Floyd County Parks Board by the Blue Sky Foundation in 2006.
The center, located at 620 Park East Blvd., generated revenue for the parks system as it was used for volleyball and basketball leagues and tournaments as well as other events. In exchange for the center, the county is to deed the front acreage along Grant Line Road of Community Park to the city for an aquatic park.
According to the agreement reached Tuesday, the city and county would collaborate to obtain grants and additional resources for the construction of an aquatic center.
New Albany will be responsible for the costs of building, maintaining and operating the aquatic center if it comes to fruition. An important side note to the agreement is that the city and county would jointly split the costs to demolish any structures on the property necessary to construct the aquatic center.
Demolition could include the North Annex building, which has been vacant since the Floyd County Youth Shelter and solid waste office moved to the Pine View Government Center.
A plan and statement released by the city and county Tuesday didn’t include exact details for demolitions or construction of the aquatic center. The plan did specify the division of parks equipment and property.
Of the major facilities and parks that were jointly owned beyond the Southern Indiana Sports Center, the city will retain Cannon Acres and the county will receive the Campbell-Woodland Nature Trails.
“I’m glad that we were able to reach an agreement without unnecessary litigation,” Floyd County Commissioner Mark Seabrook stated in a joint news release. “We see this as an opportunity for the community to have improved services and a start of a better relationship between city and county.”
The parks board was set to decide who would receive the Southern Indiana Sports Center during a Thursday meeting if the city and county didn’t reach an agreement.
Gahan cited the lack of a public outdoor pool in New Albany as one of the reasons for wanting to split the parks department, as he faulted funding shortfalls by the county in the joint venture as part of the reason for what he defined as diminished recreational services available in the city.
The deal reached Tuesday calls for the city and county to work together on an aquatic center. The city would support a county “public plaza concept” near the aquatic center as part of the plan.
“I’m very excited that we could come together and find an agreement that works for both city and county residents,” Gahan said. “We are looking forward to a smooth transition and an improved city parks and recreation department.”
The city and county both plan to launch separate parks systems Jan. 1.
As for financial accounts, the city will receive 53 of the remaining operating, shelter and nonreverting operating funds.
Since only New Albany taxpayers have supported the levy, the city will retain all of the remaining cumulative capital fund. New Albany is also set to receive all of the remaining revenue from dividends the parks department drew from Valley View Golf Course.