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September 24, 2013

Mixed use, no billboards for Colston Park in Jeffersonville

Also: Parks authority talks costs on ice rink for downtown

JEFFERSONVILLE — Another plan presented for Colston Park in Jeffersonville on Monday was dismissed by the city’s Parks Authority.

The development was much smaller than the previous plans proposed and would also require a zoning change in order to allow it to locate in the Colston Park property. The request was to install an electronic billboard in the park, which would have been located along the newly completed Interstate 65 northbound bridge.

However, the majority of the parks authority was against the spot zoning it required and the construction of a billboard in the park because of the potential for larger developments.

“I’d rather people not look to the right and see a sign,” said Parks Authority President Ed Zastawny. “They would be looking at the signs, not at what’s going to be developed down there.”

The Colston Park property has been a constant source of discussion for potential development, with the early plans for the lot being a possible convention center. More recently, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore revealed his idea to develop the property into Rose Hill Commons, a mixed-use development of brownstones located above commercial space on the street level.

However, development on the site has stalled. Requests by the redevelopment commission to acquire the deed from the parks authority have been denied. The parks authority has said that before it hands over the land a more developed proposal needs to be in place and further study needs to be conducted on a Civil War-era gravesite in the park.

When his plan was revealed Moore said he wanted private developers to determine what will go on the site, with input from the Rose Hill neighbors.

Zastawny said completing the due diligence on the site before the parks authority would allow development to move forward was a point he offered the mayor and reiterated to the developer of Rose Hill Residences.

A private development firm that purchased the former 30,000-square-foot school house on Maple Street also expressed interest in the nearby Colston Park property for a potential mixed-use development.

“If the project’s good, yeah, I think we would consider it,” Zastawny said. “They still have to do the due diligence of finding out what’s underneath it. It was such an preliminary conversation, I don’t know if it’ll ever happen. I think they were just testing the waters.”

In addition to a desire to develop the park in the future, the parks authority expressed a desire to avoid spot zoning, which would be required in order to construct the billboard.

“It is an opportunity for local business to advertise, which they so desperately need,” said David Watkins with CBS Outdoor, who was seeking approval to put up the billboard. He added that the billboard would offer the parks authority a chance to advertise the programs the city is offering.

Parks Authority Member Dennis Julius reiterated the desire for motorists to see the development that does eventually move forward in Colston Park from the interstate.

Zach Payne was the only parks authority board member in favor of pursuing a discussion about installing a billboard, but the motion failed 4-2, with Parks Authority Member Nathan Samuel  and Zastawny against. A five-person majority is required and board members Mike Smith, Bryan Glover and Matt Owen were absent from the meeting.

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