By BRADEN LAMMERS
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.
ICE SKATING RINK
While it is still months away, the initial discussions were held about bringing an ice skating rink back to downtown Jeffersonville
The rink, which has been placed near the corner of Market and Spring streets for the last two years is planned to be located in the same spot this winter.
Parks Department Director Paul Northam said requests will be submitted to split the costs between the city council — which is comprised of the same members as the parks authority board — the redevelopment commission and the Urban Enterprise Zone, at a cost of $25,000 per entity. Combined with the rink admissions, the expectation is that the parks department would generate about $50,000 and be close to breaking even on the costs of the ice rink, Northam said.
He added the department is still planning to pursue sponsorships to help defer some of the costs.
A financial report released in March showed the ice skating rink cost the city more than $75,000 last winter. The previous year, the rink cost Jeffersonville more than $77,000.
But Samuel said that he would like to keep the rink going, at least for one more season.
“This would be the first year where we have additional foot traffic,” he said, referring to the anticipated opening of the Big Four Bridge in November. “I would hate for to shut it off before we even see [its impact]. I would be supportive of us doing it for at least another year.”
The rink is expected to open the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29, and remain open into January.