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July 28, 2013

New Albany officials eye Ekin Center renovation

Boys & Girls Club primary tenant of city building

NEW ALBANY — Not too much is clear about the Ekin Avenue Recreation Center.

City officials aren’t sure how old the building is, how much the two tenants are paying to use the space, or why more funds weren’t poured into maintaining the structure in the past.

One thing that is clear, at least for New Albany Councilman John Gonder. The building should have a future, and that won’t happen without a feasible plan and some directive.

“A failure to act on it, I think, is as criminal as the criminal neglect that went on before,” Gonder said Friday.

That may sound like a serious indictment, but Gonder emphasized saving the building is as important to the community as projects such as adding Little League baseball fields.

The center was the home of the New Albany-Floyd County Parks Department offices through 2012. In January, the parks department split, and the city opened its offices at the Griffin Recreation Center while the county moved to the Southern Indiana Sports Center.

Since then, New Albany Street Commissioner Mickey Thompson has become the de facto overseer of the Ekin center.

Its primary tenant is the Ed Endres Boys & Girls Club, and a table tennis group also rents space on the second floor of the building.

Thompson acknowledged there isn’t really a plan in place yet as to how to foot upgrades to the building, but he took Gonder on a tour of the facility recently.

“I think that thing is a real gem,” Gonder said. “It was amazing almost the neglect that was operated against that building.”

Boys & Girls Club officials approached the city about the status of the building and their deal to use space in the facility.

An official with the Boys & Girls Club said they had located a lease agreement with the city, but the details of that deal aren’t clear, Thompson said.

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The Rev. Eric Johnson, New Albany, is accompanied by Shea, right, and Sammy Taylor, both of Memphis, during the cross procession at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church's Good Friday service in New Albany on Friday afternoon.

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