NEW ALBANY — Grant Line Elementary School is one step closer to becoming a city school.
The New Albany Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. Board voted 5-2 this week to allow New Albany to annex the school. The city's redevelopment commission already voted in favor of the annexation in order to move forward with improvements to Grant Line Road. The city council will have the final say.
The city plans to cut a few feet from the hill on Grant Line Road outside the Blackberry Ridge subdivision due to line-of-sight issues around the development's entrance. The redevelopment commission approved a contract with Clark Dietz, Inc. recently to create a design plan for the project.
"With [Grant Line Elementary] being in the city, it helps us look at more options and things we can do beyond the hill to continue to make that road safer and better," Josh Staten, the city's redevelopment director, said.
Bill Wiseheart, director of facilities for the school corporation, said there seemed to be more pros than cons with the school being annexed. The school corporation does not pay taxes so it will not take income away from the county, and Grant Line Elementary will now get city fire and police service.
School board member Jenny Higbie said she has had children at Grant Line for 10 years, adding that there are "multiple issues that have never been resolved" when it comes to traffic in and out of the school lot.
"I'm excited these are going to be addressed for safety reasons," she said. "Our focus should be what is best for kids, and for the safety of everyone that travels up and down that road. It is increasingly getting worse."
Higbie said there was a time when the line of traffic pulling into school backed out onto Grant Line Road. A loop built in the rear of the school helped solve some of those issues. But with more apartments and developments being constructed along and around Grant Line, improvements to the road are needed, she said.
"It's nearly impossible to make a left turn out of school," she said.
Board members Lee Ann Wiseheart and Rebecca Gardenour were not as thrilled with the annexation proposition. Both said the move seemed to be politically motivated.
Gardenour said when the state gave control of Grant Line Road to the city in 2010 along with millions of dollars, the repairs should have been completed at that time.
"It's politics and it's a shame they have to bring the school system into it," Gardenour said.
Lee Ann Wiseheart said never in the history of the school has there ever been any safety compromises.
But board member Joe Brown said he has tried to find someone to "tell me what the downside is to this" but has not had any luck.
Floyd County Commissioner John Schellenberger said county officials knew about the plan and don't see a problem with the school being annexed.
"It expands their annexation area, but it really has no impact on us. We weren't getting property tax revenue so we are not losing any money," he said. "It's really a neutral situation for me. That area is dangerous in the morning and maybe the annexation will help that situation."
New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said he was happy the board voted in favor to annex the school.
"It's a win-win for everybody," he said. "Because of it we will have a safer road around the school."