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May 15, 2013

New Albany council to vote on aquatic center plans Thursday

Splash park added to park plan at Hoosier Panel site

NEW ALBANY —

The money has already been approved, but the New Albany City Council will hold another vote on the administration’s proposed quality-of-life projects tonight. 

The council will vote on a resolution to approve the final design of an outdoor aquatic center, a multi-use sports complex and a refurbishment of Binford Park for soccer and football fields. 

David Duggins, director of redevelopment and economic development for the city, said the original plans for the projects were tweaked following public input sessions and meetings with council members. 

The aquatic center — which will be built at the former Camille Wright pool site off Daisy Lane — is now designed to include three lanes for lap swimming and more green space in place of a concrete deck. 

“One of the best suggestions we got from the public sessions was the green space,” said Shane Gibson, an attorney with the city. 

A building that will house a game room has been added to the design, as Duggins said it will be available for rent and should boost revenue for the aquatic center. 

The aquatic center — which is slated to open in 2015 — should fall within the budgeted amount, he continued.

“Nine million was budgeted, and we’re hoping to be closer to the $7.5 million to $8.5 million range,” Duggins said. 

Beyond the debate over whether a bond should have been approved to fund the projects, there have been other concerns raised by officials and members of the community about the projects. 

New Albany resident Sam Schad submitted a letter to Mayor Jeff Gahan and local media outlets protesting the aquatic center. 

It included a petition with 302 signatures from people Schad said desired a more “robust” facility that would provide full-year access to a 50-meter pool. 

“Given the design resources at our disposal, it seems senseless that no one is asking one simple question: How can we build a facility that could be used by the broadest spectrum of our community all year long,” Schad wrote in the letter. 

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