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August 27, 2013

Floyd County closes on park, Little League site

New Albany will have to approve special exception

FLOYD COUNTY — The deal is official. Floyd County has purchased about 38 acres of land for $800,000 from Northside Christian Church that will be used for a new Little League complex and a public park.

Well, at least on paper that’s the plan.

The county finalized its deal with Northside Christian last week, and now it must obtain approval from the New Albany Board of Zoning Appeals to construct the new facilities since the property is located within the two-mile fringe area.

In some cases such a request might seem like a given, but the city and county haven’t exactly enjoyed an idealistic relationship over the past two years.  

This will be the first park launched by the county since the city elected to part ways and launch its own parks department this year.

The county is also partnering with New Albany Little League on the project after the organization rejected an offer by Mayor Jeff Gahan to construct a new baseball and softball facility on the former Hoosier Panel property.

In June, a letter was sent from New Albany BZA chairman Thomas Wolf to the county regarding the property, which is located at 4407 Charlestown Road near the Interstate 265 interchange.

In the letter, Wolf stated the “property is encumbered with a significant amount of floodway and floodway fringe areas” and is heavily regulated by state and federal agencies.

The letter was sent via e-mail by New Albany Plan Commission Director Scott Wood, and was forwarded to several county officials as well as the media.

The county’s proposed park certainly wouldn’t be the only one in the area located in a floodway.

For example Binford Park — which is set to be upgraded with new fields, lighting and drainage — sits in a major floodway in the city.

In a follow-up e-mail to the News and Tribune, Wood said the BZA never stated it was opposed to the development of a park at Northside.

“It merely advised the [Floyd County Council] and [Floyd County Commissioners] that there is a zoning process required,” Wood said.

Don Lopp, county planner and director of operations, said Monday a timetable for moving the project ahead hasn’t been established.

The county needs to meet with parks leaders, hold meetings with neighborhood associations and determine when it will seek a special exception from the city, Lopp said.

“All in all I think it’s a positive step forward in terms of parks and recreation in that part of the county,” he said.

The county will conduct the necessary engineering studies for the site as they pertain to drainage and other development issues, Lopp continued.

“At the appropriate time when we’re ready to submit for approval, we’ll have that information for the city for the permitting process,” he said.

The county is also seeking to update its parks master plan, and Lopp said there will be opportunities for the public to weigh-in on the Charlestown Road project as well as other parks matters in the coming months.

He declined to estimate when the latest park could open, as he added a timeline will be determined by county leaders in the near future.

“The next main item for us would be obtaining engineering and an architect for the project,” Lopp said.

As for the details of the deal, Lopp said nothing major changed since the agreement was announced last month.

New Albany Little League is seeking to construct six fields on the property, and will pay the county $20,922 per acre once its plans are finalized.

New Albany Little League will be able to pay for the property over 50 installments, and there are restrictions in the deed requiring that the land only be used for park space.

Little League will be responsible for the construction costs for the new fields.


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