News and Tribune

November 20, 2013


Reader: Others contributed to downtown

This letter is in response to the Nov. 14, 2013, column by News and Tribune editor Shea Van Hoy regarding the downtown New Albany YMCA.

For the record, I am a member of the New Albany Y and have supported it from the very beginning. However, one project, regardless of how large or important it is, does not become the sole catalyst for a redevelopment effort. There were, and still are, many projects, organizations and people who are responsible for the renaissance of Downtown New Albany.

Develop New Albany, the downtown development organization which has been in existence for decades, took on the responsibility of renovating the White House building on Pearl Street and the Second State Bank of Indiana/Red Cross building on Main.

Individuals purchased vacant and deteriorating buildings and refurbished them, such as Brenda and Larry Scharlow, who brought the old Grand Theater back to life as a major meeting and event venue. Merchants such as J.O. Endris Jewelers, Schmitt Furniture and Kaiser’s Tobacco made a decision to stay in the downtown when others were moving to the suburbs.

Many volunteers gave of their time and talent to work on the Develop New Albany Board of Directors or served on its committees, including the Restaurant Task Force formed years ago.

There were the early entrepreneurs who took risks in starting new businesses, sometimes failing in the process. One could arguably say that the individuals and businesses of the 19th century who built such wonderful, and now historic buildings, where many of the new businesses that thrive in the downtown are located, were also part of the process.

Yes, the YMCA has been a very important part of the resurgence of downtown New Albany but let us not forget that it has been a long journey with vast investments of time, talent and money by many that have gotten us where we are today.

— Nick Cortolillo, Floyds Knobs

Reader upset with Clarksville councilmen

I continue to be upset with four members of the Clarksville Town Council — Bob Polston, Paul Kraft, Don Tetley and Bob Popp.

I feel as if you’ve woven a twisted tapestry of deceit simply to gain, and retain, control of my tax dollars for your own misuse.

First, Mr. Polston, you clearly indicated prior to the election that you would support voting by district. Instead, and in spite of widespread public support, you voted against it. You said you changed your mind and then couldn’t decide — knowing full well that Mr. Kraft, Mr. Tetley and Mr. Popp would vote no. This resulted in leaving us again with townwide voting and the mismanagement that results from it.

Next, in spite of fully supporting the recommendations of the city/town committee’s recommendation, which included the benefits of investing in a professional town manager, you terminated this effort. The comments you and Mr. Popp made can only be construed as frivolous and irresponsible.

It is not lost on your other constituents that the net effect of your actions will be the perpetual control of the town government by the part-time “Gang of Four” and their small group of hangers-on, as well as the imprudent spending of our tax dollars.

— Teresa Ballew, Clarksville

There are plenty of reasons for a town manager

Clarksville Councilmen Paul Kraft, Bob Polston, Bob Popp and Don Tetley decided against having a town manager after they studied the issue and voted for having one.

Keep in mind that Clarksville councilmen normally have full-time day jobs, have no degree or experience in public administration, accounting, economics and financial management.

Polston wanted a local guy without pointing out that no one in Clarksville is qualified. Imagine the success his beloved Indiana Basketball Hoosiers would have if they recruited only from Bloomington?

He and Popp didn’t want to allow a town manager to hold sway over the hiring and firing of employees. Remember the town at one time employed two building commissioners, allowed an employee to stay after the audit revealed more than $50,000 in fraudulent expense and allowed another to stay in town-owned building rent free. That’s a lot of power they’d be losing.

Ice Miller is one of the highest price legal firms in the state. Popp didn’t want to take competitive bids for the work they do. It’s the same with insurance, engineering, architects, financial firms and so on. What kind of stewardship is that?

In another confusing action, Popp, as head of the Redevelopment Commission, stated that the committee should have diversity. Yet he has avoided appointing a woman to serve on his commission.

Finally, Kraft said a town manager was just too expensive. What he omitted to mention was the potential profit from that investment.

Imagine a trained professional manager finding out the town’s fleet of vehicles was averaging only two miles per gallon. Most certainly he would have found out we weren’t getting the volume of gas we were paying for and could save us much of the $447,000 we taxpayers shelled out for it.

Then there is the potential savings in finding the retainer fees that weren’t used for professional services. This is work the town manager could do without having high paid consultants and much, much more.   

Now do you agree with them? Or should we have a professional, experienced town manager to oversee the daily running of the town and allow the council in their limited time to focus on policies?

— John Krueger, Clarksville