By BRADEN LAMMERS
JEFFERSONVILLE — Revised plans for the Big Four Station were presented to Jeffersonville residents at a public hearing held Saturday.
The design for the park, which will sit at the foot of the Big Four pedestrian and bicycle bridge, was modified from the plans that had originally been presented in July by the Estopinal Group.
Before the meeting got under way, opposition to the revised plans and claims that public input was not taken prompted a passionate response from an audience member.
Jeffersonville resident Carolyn Campbell argued with other area residents in attendance about the plan to create a two-block park at the foot of the Big Four Bridge and left before the presentation began.
“I came here because I love Jeffersonville, and it never occurred to me they would want to get rid of it as fast as they can, but that’s what they’re doing,” she said.
Campbell claimed she attended the previous public hearing, held in July, but that the representatives taking comments would not take her statement.
“I told the mayor it looked like a rest stop along the interstate,” she said, adding the comment was not recorded. “So, of course they can get a lot of people that think it’s OK, nobody’s hearing the other side.”
Wayne Estopinal, president of the Estopinal Group, took umbrage to Campbell’s comments and said “we’ve documented well over 200 comments. We have heard you.”
He added that those comments helped change what was originally designed.
About 40 members of the public were present to see the plans revealed and the Estopinal Group again recorded their comments.
Phyliss Croce, a Riverside Drive resident, was pleased with the plans the city had put together.
“I think it makes the connection to downtown stronger,” she said. “It’s always a shame to lose housing stock, but what we’re gaining is [an improvement] tenfold.”
The park will sit at the foot of the Big Four Bridge, a pedestrian and bicycle crossing which will connect the downtowns of Louisville and Jeffersonville. It is a renovation of an abandoned railroad bridge which closed in the 1960s.
Changes presented by Estopinal to area residents Saturday included additions, revisions and reductions to the park that will span from Market to Maple streets and Mulberry to Pearl streets.
Among the reductions were LED lighting planned to run along the bridge ramp, which will instead be along the railing to reduce spill-over light and the cutting back of a cover planned over a playground in the park.
Revisions to the plans include changes to the restroom facility and its location, the reduced size of light towers near the bridge ramp, design changes made to an obelisk at the center of the landing of the ramp and a more simplified multipurpose pavilion to create more open space.
The obelisk — still at the center of a landing at the foot of the bridge ramp — includes elements that relate to the former railroad crossing, with lattice work that is reminiscent of the former bridge trellises and a marker, about halfway up the tower, which marks the cresting point of the 1937 flood.
Changes were also made to the path running through the park, making it more curved and the reduction in the scale to a water feature planned near the park. The cascading water feature was designed to mimic the nearby Falls of the Ohio, which will drop 14 feet and funnel into a pool surrounding the obelisk.
Additions to the project are acorn lighting along the perimeter of the park to blend in better with the historic Rose Hill neighborhood. Historical signage will also be added and low-profile bollards, or light posts, will be installed. Those will be about three feet tall and create light for security, but are designed to not be intrusive to the homes surrounding the park.
“We’re trying to showcase as much of the history of [Jeffersonville] as we possibly can,” said Mayor Mike Moore.
The purpose of the park, however, may far outweigh the squabbles in design preference.
“It connects Louisville and Jeffersonville at a pedestrian level unlike anything that we have today,” Estopinal said. “I think it’s going to be a very dynamic place for the city to gather and it’s going to be for the entire city to gather. That’s the key.
“We really think that the park connection with the downtown central business district will be a real catalyst for what can happen downtown.”
Moore added that the vast majority of residents he has spoken with about Big Four Station are very excited about this project. He said in addition to the public hearing held earlier in the year, he has heard input for the plan at a number of evening neighborhood meetings he has hosted throughout the city.
“Anybody who wanted to offer an opinion, we certainly listened to, and we modified this plan because we were listening,” Moore said. “When you can get 90 percent approval from the residents for a project — and I’m basing that off of the comments that we’ve gotten — I’m pretty darn happy.”
Another design element that Estopinal said has gone somewhat unnoticed is the amount of greenspace that will be added to the area. He said most of the elements being constructed in the site are surrounding the foot of the ramp and he estimated that 80 percent of the park is actually greenspace.
“For the most part, we’ve got a great passive greenspace in the heart of the city,” he said. “If you’ve driven along I-65 and look to your right as you’re coming north, you’re going to see this and it’s going to be a great front door to this city.”
The full estimate for Estopinal’s design plans through construction is expected to total $363,000.
Completion of the ramp is expected in April and the goal for the Estopinal Group is to have the project detailed and bid at its completion date. It is estimated that it will take 14 months to complete Big Four Station park.