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February 12, 2013

New Albany Redevelopment Commission sets bond path for aquatic center, baseball park

Duplication debate arises over separate Little League, administration plans

NEW ALBANY — The New Albany Redevelopment Commission agreed to a lease financing resolution for capital recreation projects Tuesday, as the city could bond as much as $19.6 million for an aquatic center, a baseball park and soccer fields.

The New Albany City Council would still have to approve any bond issue for the projects, and the approval of the resolution doesn’t yet tie the commission to any of the proposals.

Also, the $19.6 million figure along with a 7 percent interest rate are the maximum amounts the city would incur for borrowing the funding, according to private financial counsel that advised the commission on the resolution.

Essentially, the resolution allows the New Albany Redevelopment Authority to own and fund the projects, and then lease them to the redevelopment commission.

Tax-increment financing has been established as the source to repay the debt, however there would be a property tax backup for the bond if it’s ultimately approved.

But Tom Pittman, an attorney with the Indianapolis firm Barnes & Thornburg who advised the commission on the resolution, said the city has “ample” projected TIF revenues to cover the bond payments if the projects are approved.

A public hearing on the funding mechanism passed by the commission to potentially foot the projects, has been slated for the body’s March 12 meeting.

Duplication debate arises

On Monday, New Albany Little League organization officials announced they are committed to building a new baseball and softball complex near the Interstate 265 interchange off Charlestown Road — outside the city limits.

Mayor Jeff Gahan also confirmed his resolve to move forward with a city-funded project that would bring five new baseball fields, possibly to the former Hoosier Panel site off Silver Street.

During the redevelopment meeting Tuesday, New Albany Little League Vice President Justin Endres urged the body to avoid “competition and duplication” by building a rival facility.

“I think we serve the community well, and there’s so much better we can do with our funds than have a duplicate service,” Endres said.

The New Albany Little League’s coverage area incorporates the city and stretches out to County Line Road. City Councilman and redevelopment member Dan Coffey said that by building new fields in the county, New Albany Little League is hampering the chances of the organization being able to serve inner-city children.

He responded to Endres that the city has had its own youth baseball league before, and that the commission, council and administration have an obligation to provide adequate facilities for New Albany residents.

“This is about meeting the needs of children,” Coffey said. “Our responsibility is to the citizens of New Albany. Where you’re preparing to build this is not in New Albany.”

Commission member Adam Dickey suggested the city and Little League meet to possible iron out a partnership. As a private organization, New Albany Little League can host its games where it chooses.

The organization has garnered Floyd County as a partner for its potential $6 million project. The first phase of Little League’s proposal — estimated to cost $3.8 million — is to purchase the property from Northside Christian Church and construct six baseball fields.

Softball fields would be added as part of the second phase. Endres said that when both phases are complete, families with children playing softball and baseball will be able to drive to one location instead of separate parks.

Dickey stressed that in his belief, the commission must consider what is best for New Albany.

“We’ve still got an obligation to look at our facilities,” he said. “I don’t think the two [separate parks plans] necessarily conflict.”

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