By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY — A bond for a Little League ballpark, two soccer fields and an aquatic center in New Albany could be paid off with tax-increment financing revenue.
The New Albany Redevelopment Commission took the first step to include the proposed facilities into its TIF funding plan Wednesday during a meeting that touched on several key infrastructure issues in the city.
Mayor Jeff Gahan’s plan for the facilities includes the construction of a Little League park that could cost up to $5 million, an aquatic center priced at up to $9 million and the addition of two soccer fields at Binford Park that would be about a $900,000 expense.
The body will first be asked to follow the redevelopment commission and approve adding the projects to the TIF plan, but Gahan said the New Albany City Council could receive a bond request within 60 days.
“Right now we’re moving forward with the understanding that we are quite capable of completing these projects with the financial strength of the city of New Albany and the redevelopment commission,” Gahan said.
But the TIF plan isn’t just about facilities. It also includes a renewed focus on paving roads. Councilman and redevelopment member Dan Coffey requested that the TIF funding plan also reiterate that road improvements are a potentially eligible project.
He said the council prioritizes paving, and really prefers that a large-scale resurfacing project be included in the bond for the soccer fields, aquatic center and Little League park.
“The council wants a complete bond issue, not to roll out two bond issues,” Coffey said.
Road improvements have been funded with TIF funds often in the past, but paving is what Coffey emphasized.
David Duggins, director of economic development and redevelopment for the city, said the administration has begun updating a prior paving index of New Albany.
He said that by next week, the city should know how much money will be needed to complete substantial paving in New Albany.
However Economic Development Income Tax, or EDIT, funds may be used for the paving effort, which would mean the resurfacing end of the plan would likely be handled through a second bond.
Coffey said that at least the bonds should be presented to the council at the same time. He said there’s support from the council for the quality-of-life projects proposed by Gahan.
“But we’ve needed roads for the past 20 years,” Coffey said.
All of the projects included in the plan by the redevelopment commission Wednesday are vital to enticing new residents and businesses to the city and for supporting people who have already invested in New Albany, Gahan said.
He vowed that a paving bond would be produced to the council at the same time, though Gahan said the details of the financing still will have to finalized.
“Each one of these projects are necessary to keep our city competitive, and we have a variety of financial tools to help us complete these projects,” Gahan said.
“The city council, administration and redevelopment commission will be working together to determine which tool in the toolbox we’re going to use to complete the work that we need to have done.”
Potential sites for facilities
As part of the amended TIF plan, the commission named some of the potential sites for the aquatic center and Little League park.
While the city has an agreement with Floyd County that would allow New Albany to build the aquatic center on a portion of Sam Peden Community Park, the former Camille Wright Pool site was also listed as a possibility.
The Camille Wright property had been considered as a new site for a fire station if Kroger purchased the Green Valley Road fire house, however Gahan said at least the use of the former pool location may change.
“Camille Wright is a much better choice for a pool than it is a fire house,” he said.
As for the Little League site, Coffey said the city is considering purchasing the former Hoosier Panel property as a spot to build the complex. Located at 2045 Silver St., the property is owned by New Albany businessman Jeff Eastridge.
The city attempted to purchase the property in the past when Eastridge was seeking to move his tire recycling business off Ind. 111. Denied previously, Eastridge is again requesting an OK from the New Albany Board of Zoning Appeals to move the business off Ind. 111.
Duggins said another site off Charlestown Road near the city limits is also being considered for the Little League park. The current facility is located off Mount Tabor Road, and Little League officials have sought to open a new complex for several years.
Like the city, the New Albany Little League organization submitted a grant request for a baseball park to the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County late last year.
Gahan said members of his administration have been in contact with Little League officials about the city’s plan. Messages left for New Albany Little League President Mark Boone seeking comment over the past week hadn’t been returned as of press time Wednesday.
Including the projects into the TIF funding plan doesn’t mean they will definitely come to fruition.
The council has to vote on the amended plan, then the redevelopment commission must take a second vote to ratify change. It will also take three ballots from the council to approve bond issues for paving and the recreational facilities.
Gahan said the administration will continue to seek other sources of funding for the projects, including a Horseshoe Foundation grant.
Also included in the amended plan was a possible expansion of the downtown Farmers Market. Duggins said the expansion would likely only be funded if there’s remaining money from the TIF bond.