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April 28, 2013

Gahan: New Albany parks department off to a great start

New Albany mayor vows to focus on existing facilities along with new parks

NEW ALBANY — The New Albany Parks Department is pressing along nicely through four months of operation, Mayor Jeff Gahan said this week.

Parks facilities have been a focal point of the administration since New Albany split from Floyd County in order to operate its own recreational system.

“I think we have a lot excitement surrounding the parks and this transition,” he said.

The New Albany City Council and Redevelopment Commission approved Gahan’s plan to add an outdoor aquatic center, multiuse park and an overhaul of Binford Park this year. Gahan touted the projects as not only a way to improve the parks system, but also to redevelop vacant areas in residential neighborhoods.

The aquatic center will be constructed at the former Camille Wright pool site, and the old Hoosier Panel property off Silver Street likely will be converted into a park with an indoor gymnasium, an outdoor field for football and soccer and possibly a skate park.

The council will have to approve the final design plan before construction starts, and the city has yet to purchase the Hoosier Panel property.

However, Gahan anticipates the plans for the aquatic center and Binford Park will be presented to the council within the next six weeks.

The council already has approved the financing for the projects, which will come in the form of a bond likely worth at least $17.6 million.

“Everything is moving along right on schedule,” said David Duggins, director of economic development and redevelopment for the city.

As planned, the aquatic center would open in 2015. Gahan said the projects are just part of what the new municipal parks department could accomplish.

“I think we have a unique opportunity now to really capitalize on the new structure that has been formed with the New Albany City Parks” Department, Gahan said.

UPGRADING EXISTING FACILITIES

In addition to installing new soccer fields at Binford Park, Gahan said the city parks board will look to improve the recreational facilities New Albany already possesses.

“The specific charge of the new parks board in the coming months will be developing those investments and those capital improvements, and deciding how they’ll be prioritized,” Gahan said of projects for existing parks.

The parks board has toured the existing parks and recreational facilities to take inventory. Gahan said the board will likely have some firm plans on how to improve the municipal parks within 60 days.

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