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August 24, 2013

Lack of notification has Floyd County upset with New Albany

New Albany: Durgee Road project is about safety first

NEW ALBANY — A year after the question was first raised, Floyd County officials are again voicing their displeasure with New Albany for adjustments being made to Durgee Road without their approval.

The city is building an extension to access the under-construction Grant Line West Industrial Park via a connection with Durgee Road, which is controlled by the county.

The city has annexed the industrial park property, but does not have ownership of Durgee Road.

An existing railroad crossing on the road is in the process of being relocated by the city, and without the permission of the Floyd County government.

It’s another chapter in a book of disagreements between the city and county over the past two years that has included the division of the former joint parks department, a refusal to combine 911 dispatch services and a feud over zoning control of the two-mile fringe area.

On Tuesday, the Floyd County Commissioners requested its attorney, Rick Fox, to inform the city that it hadn’t notified the commissioners that it would be closing portions of Durgee Road for the improvements, or sought permission for construction.

“How can the city close a county road? I have a big problem with that,” Commissioner Mark Seabrook said. “They built it without telling us, now they’re closing it without telling us?”

John Rosenbarger, director of public facilities projects for New Albany, stated in an email response that the city would be “happy to coordinate with the county on the closing of the railroad crossing located on Durgee Road.”

“The city is cognizant of the need to inform the property owners and the railroad,” he said. “The safety of the roadway user is the most important issue, and we recognize the need to notify all involved.”

David Duggins, economic development and redevelopment director for the city, said Grant Line West will open by Oct. 1. It will entail 40 acres of new industrial space in the first phase.

The only industry located in the park area currently is W M Kelley Co., which has been in business off Durgee Road since 1971.

City officials said they have heard no complaints from W M Kelley about the construction.

Company vice president Fred Kelley told the News and Tribune last year that he welcomed the project, primarily because it will upgrade the road leading to the business and provide sewer service to the facility for the first time.

“It’s been an issue since we’ve been out here, and we’ve had no improvements in the county area for a long time,” Kelley said last August. “So it will definitely be a huge improvement, [with] better access and better safety getting onto the highway.”

A federal Economic Development Administration grant is covering half of the $3.4 million construction tab for the project.

The 40-acre tract was donated to the city by John Shine.

News and Tribune Assistant Editor Chris Morris contributed to this story.

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