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November 4, 2013

More frustrations aired about Mt. Tabor Road in New Albany

Also: Council pushes Pence to accept Medicaid funding

NEW ALBANY — With a light agenda to consider, the New Albany City Council spent much of Monday’s meeting hearing from residents concerned about the proposed $4 million Mt. Tabor Road project.

About 18 people said they were opposed to the project as currently designed, especially the addition of a roundabout at the intersection of Klerner Lane.

“It destroys four pieces of property and damages many others,” said Klerner Lane resident Richard Poe.

“It’s just really unacceptable to us, and it’s really not needed.”

The problem is the council doesn’t have much of a say on the issue. It’s a federal aid project and the city’s 20 percent match is coming from tax-increment financing funds which are overseen by the New Albany Redevelopment Commission.

While the council does have two appointments on the five-member commission, the administration manages the project with the aid of a design firm.

But Councilman Scott Blair, who represents the Mt. Tabor Road area, said elected officials should still hear  residents’ concerns.

Blair also called for the project to be scaled back, as opponents of the plan said sidewalks aren’t needed on both sides of Mt. Tabor Road.

“To me it’s too overwhelming — it’s too intrusive on people’s property,” he said.

A heavily attended public hearing was held on the project in September, and several residents voiced objections to the project and the roundabout.

Some of the people who attended the council meeting on Monday also stated their fears that the city’s project would increase the amount of traffic on Mt. Tabor Road.

Roger Baylor, co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co., compared the frustrations surrounding the Mt. Tabor Road project to his own complaints about the city’s downtown traffic grid.

He said during the meeting that residents in that area of the city want safer, calmer streets, and that’s what downtown business and property owners also desire by pushing for two-way streets.

“It’s exactly the same argument,” Baylor said.

As for Mt. Tabor Road, the city is in a lull between the end of the public comment period and the announcement of the final design for the project.

Blair said it’s important for residents and officials to speak out about the project while the final plan is still being determined.

Mayor Jeff Gahan — who did not attend Monday’s meeting — has said the administration would consider public input before deciding on a final design.

It’s been estimated the project wouldn’t start until 2015.

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