FLOYD COUNTY — Northside Christian Church proposed to the Floyd County Commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting that it could help with the parking overflow from New Albany Little League games at Kevin Hammersmith Memorial Park by donating land for a parking lot.
While there was discussion about the proposal, there was no action to indicate if it will be considered.
The lack of parking spaces at the park during Little League games has resulted in people parking in the church’s lot across a street.
Lawyer John Kraft of Young, Lind, Endres and Kraft, who represented the church, offered a portion of Northside’s property as a donation to the county to turn into a parking lot.
“It would greatly solve the safety issue of those folks that are crossing the road in order to get current parking,” Kraft said Tuesday.
Kraft said at the meeting that Northside’s desire is to both create a safer place to park and also alleviate some of the issues the church is facing with the overflow parking.
Little League asked the commissioners in June for additional parking at the facility, saying that before moving its fields to the park in 2018 they expected to have over 400 parking spaces, but 258 spots were constructed with the park.
The commissioners voted later in June to add 150 spots to an area to the west of the park, which is predicted to cost the county around $200,000, according to commissioner John Schellenberger.
The chairperson for Northside’s board of directors, Bill Collings, said at the meeting Tuesday that he does not think that anyone is going to use the overflow parking that the county approved earlier in the year.
“They might use it to go swing or play, but when the numbers hit, they’re parking at Northside,” Collings said.
“We are getting abused, it’s not just weekends — it is the default parking. You ask 20 people that went to their grandson’s ballgame, they parked at Northside, on Monday and Tuesday and Thursday,” Collings said.
Commissioners president Shawn Carruthers said that in terms of distance, the walk from the county’s new lot to the baseball fields would be shorter than from where people are parking at Northside.
“It’ll take some time for people to realize the parking is back there. I think with some direction, people will use it,” Carruthers said at the meeting.
Kraft said Tuesday that community members and public foundations have offered to help with the project. New Albany-Floyd County School Corporation and Prosser Career Education Center have both offered to provide labor and heavy equipment, according to Collings.
“We’re looking to the county to lead the effort. We can’t lead the effort, we don’t want to build a parking lot and own a parking lot, we’re saying ‘Please, take the land and run with it,’” Collings said.
Schellenberger said that when the issue was first brought up by Little League, the county looked at the area Northside is offering several times but the cost would have been around $900,000, a $700,000 difference from the approved plan.
“It’s a big difference in cost. If it was about the same thing, then it would be something to look at further,” Schellenberger said Tuesday.
The cost for using the county’s own lot would be reduced as they plan to use in-house resources, such as the county engineer.
Schellenberger said that the county is waiting on one more permit for the lot, which they are hoping to receive in the next month or so, and then must go through the city before the paving process will be started.
“I would be OK to meet with Northside, but again we’d have to have something concrete as far as commitments in order for me to change direction, because we already talked about this before and it’s an issue that needs to be resolved,” Schellenberger said.
Looking at the cost, Schellenberger said that he is more than willing to consider working with the church if it is able to commit to getting the cost difference funded through donations and fundraisers should the county put forth the $200,000-$225,000 it planned on spending for the project.