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November 8, 2012

Planters approved for New Albany with stipulations

Keep New Albany Clean and Green reviewing whether to proceed

NEW ALBANY — The city approved allowing Keep New Albany Clean and Green to install planters downtown, however the stipulations attached to the deal could prohibit the project from starting until next year, members of the organization said.

After tabling the request for two weeks, the New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety OK’d Wednesday allowing the organization to install the planters if the group satisfies certain requirements. Under the stipulations, the city would reserve the right to remove the planters if any safety issue arises, the organization would have to maintain the flower boxes and the group must coordinate with the New Albany Tree Board on the project to ensure a uniform appearance.

Mickey Thompson, board of works member and New Albany Street Commissioner, said he was informed Wednesday the tree board also has a project in the works to grow trees in planters. Thompson proposed the requirements of the approval, and proposed Keep New Albany Clean and Green discuss their project with the tree board to determine if they can use matching planters and to ensure there is no conflict.

The city needs a written agreement from the organization specifying a point of contact in case there are any problems with the planters such as damage or any safety hazards, Thompson said.

Maintenance is also a big priority, he continued.

“Another issue is that the city is concerned it may turn into a trash bin,” Thompson said of people littering the planters with trash.

Such a scenario is another reason why the city wants to reserve the right to pull the planters if necessary, he said.

Keep New Albany Clean and Green President Irv Stumler said the organization strives to beautify the city, as he added that has been evident in the group’s past projects.

“It certainly is our goal, and we will maintain these planters when they’re put into place,” he said. “Our goal is to enhance the appearance of New Albany, not to do anything that would cause a problem.”

The organization was moving forward with the project in hopes that some fall and winter flowers and vegetation could be planted to coincide with a Nov. 17 beautification day sponsored by Keep New Albany Clean and Green. Stumler said it’s unlikely the group can meet all the requirements of the city’s approval in time to have the planters ordered and flowers planted in 2012.

He expressed his concern over the timing last week, but Thompson declined to second a motion to approve the installations until he could review the sites where they were to be located. Thompson met with Stumler on Tuesday to examine the sites, and he said Wednesday there were few issues with the locations, aside from concerns over ample space to install the planters.

He did request the organization consider only installing the planters at major intersections and sites downtown for now instead of including them in alleys.

Keep New Albany Clean and Green had proposed to install 82 planters downtown, but Stumler said the proposal will now have to be reviewed by the organization due to the city’s requirements.

“We’ve been under a deadline now for two weeks, and I would say now we’re probably past the deadline and nothing can be done this year,” Stumler said. “I am disappointed that it’s come so far so slowly.”

Keep New Albany Clean and Green was expected to hold a meeting this week to determine if it would still move forward with the plan.

The Nov. 17 beautification day is slated for 9 a.m. to noon, and the public is invited to help. Those interested are asked to gather in the MainSource Bank  parking lot near the intersection of State and Spring streets.

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