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October 30, 2012

Planters put on hold and Keep New Albany Clean and Green wonders why

Spring Street Hill Road reopens today, street-sweeping season ends

NEW ALBANY — A request by Keep New Albany Clean and Green to install planters and flowers downtown was again delayed Tuesday, as leaders of the organization questioned the administration’s reasons for stalling the project.

Last week, the landscaping proposal by the nonprofit was tabled by the New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety so that Street Commissioner Mickey Thompson could examine the locations where the planters would be located.

On Tuesday, Thompson said he hadn’t reviewed the sites yet, and asked Keep New Albany Clean and Green President Irv Stumler and Vice President Jerry Finn if the request could be tabled another week.

Suellen Wilkinson, president of the board of works, also said there had been a concern raised over the prior week about maintenance of the planters.

The organization raised money to purchase the planters, and seeks to fill them with flowers in the fall and spring.

Though the project would be implemented at no cost to taxpayers, the city’s approval is needed because the planters would be on public property. Finn said downtown merchants would be asked to help take care of the planters, and members of the organization would also volunteer to provide maintenance.

“We can assure you, we’ve never asked the city to maintain anything we’ve done downtown,” Finn said.

Another delay could prohibit Keep New Albany Clean and Green from being able to plant any flowers this fall, Stumler said.

“We will probably be too late if we wait until next week,” he said.

Thompson apologized for not being able to review the proposed planter sites, and said he would be willing to meet with Stumler and Finn before next week’s meeting. He said he wouldn’t propose approval of the installations until he’s reviewed the sites.

“I would feel better if we met with you and went and looked at these places,” Thompson said.

Finn and Stumler proposed the board approve the locations subject to Thompson’s review. But Thompson declined to second a motion made by Wilkinson stipulating those conditions.

Board member Warren Nash was absent from the meeting, so the measure died due to a lack of a second. Wilkinson apologized that the matter was again delayed, and said the issue could be revisited next week.

“I think it’s a wonderful project,” she said.

Finn questioned if there was some other reason behind postponing a vote on the project, but Thompson insisted he just wanted to examine the sites due to potential safety concerns with placing anything in the public right-of-way.

Stumler — who was defeated by Mayor Jeff Gahan during the May 2011 Democratic primary for mayor — has appeared before the board of works several times this year requesting various approvals on behalf of Keep New Albany Clean and Green.

The organization offered to replace the wayfaring sign off Spring Street on the east side of New Albany in March. The matter was tabled for several months before the board of works voted in August to pay for a $2,500 study to examine the signage and median area of the entrance.

The results of that study haven’t been announced.

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