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December 12, 2013

New Albany street study due for January vote

Also: Youth Enrichment Program yields successful results

NEW ALBANY — A roads study that could pave the way for the conversion of some downtown streets to two-way traffic should be up for consideration by the New Albany Redevelopment Commission next month.

David Duggins, director of economic development and redevelopment for the city, said this week the administration is focusing on the scope of the study before bringing it to a vote. The vote should come before the commission in January, he said.

The New Albany City Council failed to approve matching funds for a $60,000 traffic study in November. Mayor Jeff Gahan had pledged to use administrative funds to cover $30,000 of the study if the council appropriated the other half of the cost.

The study may have a better chance of passing the commission, which consists of two council members and three appointments by Gahan. However Councilman John Gonder is one of the commission members, and he voted against the study when it came before the council. The city has the resources to examine downtown streets and convert most of them to two-way traffic without spending a large amount of money on a study, Gonder argued.

Councilman Dan Coffey is also on the commission. He voted in favor of the study when it came before the council and has pushed for the commission to take up the matter.

With the Ohio River Bridges Project likely to push thousands of additional vehicles into New Albany due to the lack of tolling on the Sherman Minton Bridge, Coffey said Wednesday it’s incumbent upon local officials to ensure city streets are ready to handle the extra load.

“We have to be ahead of the game,” Coffey said. “And that’s what the study will tell us. Maybe it will tell us we can’t do anything, I don’t know.”

The street grid is also a huge issue for downtown businesses, he continued.

“We can’t wait until the day we have traffic bumper to bumper on Spring Street all the way to Clark County,” Coffey said. “We can work the traffic in such a way it will actually benefit businesses downtown.”

If the commission approves the study it will not require a council vote.

Youth program growing in New Albany

Trips to museums, participating in the Special Olympics and learning about the universe through a portable planetarium — the Youth Enrichment Program has given hundreds of New Albany teens opportunities to soak in culture that they might not have otherwise experienced.

On Tuesday, the New Albany Parks Department updated city officials on the program, which is funded by an annual $25,000 contribution from the redevelopment commission.

New events were added this year including the inaugural Juneteenth celebration at the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater.

The parks department hosted numerous educational programs including International Day, where kids learned about other cultures from natives of other countries.

The Youth Enrichment Program is designed especially for kids and teenagers who live in more economically depressed areas.

Kathy Wilkerson, assistant parks superintendent and recreation director, said children and parents have really taken advantage of the activities.

“We do all we can for the kids in the target areas,” she said.

From paying for admission fees to museums to funding professional instructors to teach programs, Wilkerson said the funding provided by the commission is used wisely to benefit area youth.

The parks department operates a basketball league for teenagers, and Wilkerson said more than 150 New Albany kids signed up.

“We didn’t have to call them. We didn’t have to tell them what time their games are,” she said. “They get a schedule at the beginning of the year and I guarantee you they know what time to show up.”

The parks department is in need of a new van. The current shuttle bus is a 2002 model with more than 216,000 miles on the odometer.

Wilkerson said the seats are narrow and the air conditioning and heating only work about half the time.

Commission members said they’d be supportive of purchasing a new bus for the department, though officials said there’s nothing imminent and no price totals have been submitted.

Series focuses on “Gifts of the Season”

Six short stories from the likes of authors Truman Capote, Bill Bryson and David Sedaris will be read as part of the Parlor Stories’ “Gifts of the Season” event on Sunday.

The stories will focus on holiday gifts and the laughter, happiness and even sadness they brought. The event is hosted by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, located at 1015 E. Main St., and will be held inside the Parish House parlor.

The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with the show to begin at 6 p.m. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to help with further renovations of the Parish House.

Inspired by other such groups, Parlor Stories is a performing arts series dedicated to combining the talents of local authors and storytellers.

For more information, e-mail rkautz@stpaulna.org.

 

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