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July 10, 2013

New Albany councilwoman, residents question status of Slate Run Road project

NEW ALBANY —

Funding set aside for a $4 million upgrade to Slate Run Road in New Albany could go toward other projects, making unclear the future of the road improvements.

The Charlestown Road TIF district was to fund the effort, but with other projects coming online that will use the same TIF dollars, city officials are taking a second look at their priorities -- upsetting some residents.

New Albany City Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Benedetti, who represents the area that would be affected by the Slate Run makeover, questioned the status of the project during Tuesday’s Redevelopment Commission meeting. 

According to Benedetti, residents along Slate Run Road and the surrounding neighborhoods have pressed her about the project, which now has no clear start date. 

“They’re kind of screaming out there because we held public hearings and voted on certain things,” said Benedetti in reference to when she served as a council liaison on the redevelopment commission. She no longer serves as liaison.

Among the upgrades, Slate Run Road was to receive new sidewalks, curbs and drainage improvement as part of the proposed tax-increment financing project. But with other initiatives -- including a multiuse sports facility at the former Hoosier Panel site -- to be footed through the Charlestown Road TIF district, the Slate Run Road plan is being reviewed, according to David Duggins, director of economic development and redevelopment for the city. 

We’re “still looking at the overall financial impact” of the project, he said. 

In 2010, under then Mayor Doug England, the city held public meetings and asked for input on the project. 

City officials said at the time it was important to upgrade Slate Run Road’s pedestrian access. 

Pedestrian safety was also a point raised by Councilman John Gonder — who along with Dan Coffey are current council liaisons on the redevelopment commission — when he learned this week that the Slate Run project’s future is questionable. 

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