By JEROD CLAPP
NEW ALBANY —
Green grass, tall trees and a new walking and biking path have taken the place of a garbage repository.
Another portion of the Ohio River Greenway extending from the corner of 18th Street and Water Street in New Albany to Silver Creek was formally opened Wednesday morning. After 18 months of construction and $1.55 million in costs funded by various sources, Jeff Gahan, New Albany mayor, said he hopes residents take advantage of the path and space.
“People need to see what a vast improvement this is,” Gahan said. “This used to be the site of a dump and now it’s a beautiful place to walk or ride your bike.”
Ohio River Greenway Commission chairman Philip Hendershot said he remembers jogging in that area and remembered how peaceful it was. He said he hopes others discover the new path and the sights that go along with it, including migratory birds.
“Most people don’t even know this area exists down here,” Hendershot said. “We’re totally repurposing an area of the city that’s totally underutilized.”
But the Greenway isn’t finished yet. Shaunna Graf, project coordinator for the commission, said another section is planned to span from where 18th Street meets Water Street to beyond the New Albany Amphitheater, likely to be finished by fall of 2013.
“This is just the kick-off to another section in new Albany that will eventually connect us all together,” Graf said.
And the path is also extending in the other direction. Susan Kaempfer, president of Develop New Albany, said an old railroad bridge leading into Clark County is also on the slate to finish.
“We can’t wait for the connection to Clarksville,” Kaempfer said. “We think that will be wonderful when the bridge is completed.”
When finished, the Greenway will link the riverfronts of Jeffersonville, Clarksville and New Albany, and cross into Louisville via the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge.
Gahan said he’s glad to see the entire project moving forward and the relationships that have grown with all the communities involved.
“This is a pretty huge project and we’re learning that we know we can all come together on a project bit by bit,” Gahan said.