NEW ALBANY —
Widely known as the Town Clock Church, the building served as a link in the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. A more than $400,000 price tag has been placed on improving the building in a project that would entail replicating the historic steeple that once topped the circa-19th Century church.
City Attorney Stan Robison, with the approval of the church congregation, filed an easement on the property to protect the city’s investment in the project.
An amendment added to the appropriation before the final ballot established that the $75,000 from the city will not be released until the church has matched the amount in its own fundraising efforts.
The appropriation passed 6-2, with Blair and Councilman Greg Phipps voting against it.
Both Blair and Phipps said the history of the building is important and that they generally liked the project, but they voted against the expenditure for different reasons.
Blair wanted Gonder to amend the appropriation so that the city’s money couldn’t be spent until the church had raised enough to cover the rest of the phase-one costs.
The first phase of the project, which would include the replication of the steeple, is estimated to cost $217,500.
“I just want to make sure there’s enough funds available to complete phase one,” Blair said.
Gonder declined to add the amendment, as he said he didn’t want to “hamstring” the congregation and project by placing the additional fundraising requirement on the city’s commitment.
The church has received a $25,000 grant from the Horseshoe Foundation for the project and is accepting donations for the effort.
Phipps cited his principle of separating church and state affairs as his reason for voting against the measure.