STB Extends New Albany’s Right to Acquire CSX Line for a Trail

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This past Friday, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and CSX extended the deadline for New Albany to acquire the CSX line for a Rails to Trails conversion that would run from New Albany to Bedford.

Under federal law, railroads may allow unneeded rail lines to be converted to recreation trails.  The conversion process is governed by the STB and limits negotiation for a conversion to 180 days.  New Albany had secured authority to negotiate with CSX in August and that authority has now been extended.

Over the last 6 months, the City of New Albany has been working with the communities along the corridor to develop a coalition to acquire the 63-mile rail line and construct a walking/bike trail from New Albany to Bedford.  Radius, a regional economic development organization that works with Washington, Lawrence and Orange Counties has partnered with New Albany in this effort.

Governor Holcomb’s Next Level Trails funding opportunity has energized and accelerated the effort to create a trail.  The City has been working with its partners to prepare an application for funding from DNR and various private sources for the acquisition and construction of the trail. 

“This is the future North-South connection to our Ohio River Greenway, and it is our next phase of growth for outdoor recreation, health, and connectivity,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan.

Flood Prep Underway

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Based on current predictions, the swelling Ohio River will reach 55 feet and put New Albany into “flood stage” tomorrow and continue to rise. Flood Control crews are prepping certain areas that are expected to be affected.

“The safety and well-being of our city and its residents is the number one priority during events like this,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan. “Critical infrastructure improvements, like the ones we have made recently in flood control protection, really prove their worth during these times.”

Recent Upgrades to Pump Stations

To protect the community, the city rehabilitated 6 pumping plants and 19 pumps in 2014. Motors for all pumps were either completely rebuilt from the ground up or fully replaced. Investments in flood control infrastructure continues, as this year the city looks to invest in a new backup power system to keep all stations running during a severe emergency.

Expected Street Closures from Current Projections

This evening, one pumping plant will come online, with a second and third pumping plant projected to come online by Wednesday. Water Street, near the Riverfront Amphitheater, is currently closed at the boat ramp due to rising waters. Early tomorrow morning, Old Ford Road is projected to be closed at the intersection of Old Ford Road and Armstrong Bend Road. Signage will be placed at both ends of Old Ford Road to notify residents of the closure.

Based on current projections, these are the only roads that will need closure. The Ohio River is expected to crest at 61 feet on Friday, February 15th. Please be aware of Stormwater and Flood Control crews working near waterways, catch basins, affected roadways, and other areas during this time.

Supporting Education

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Today, Mayor Gahan has asked key staff members to attend a committee meeting this afternoon at the Statehouse to support Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore’s effort to keep his “Promise Program” alive.

House Bill 1596, authored by Representative Ed Clere, would outlaw the use of TIF funds for scholarships statewide for students and would squash Jeffersonville’s Promise Program.

“We wish Mike Moore well and fully support his decision to use TIF Funds for scholarship and workforce development,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan.

Concerns Regarding the Regional Development Authority

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At tonight’s city council meeting, One Southern Indiana (the Chamber of Commerce) will present to the council an overview of the Our Southern Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA). 

In light of this presentation, Mayor Gahan wanted to voice some concerns regarding the RDA initiative.

“The current RDA legislation (IC 36-7.6) undermines voters in Indiana,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan. “As written, it transfers oversight of public funds and projects away from City and County Councils to persons who have not been elected by voters to hold public office. It grants vast autonomy and protections to those who have not taken The Oath of Office and who have not sworn to act in the best interest of the people of Indiana. And, at this time, there is no money to support the RDA and no funds have been pledged by the current members, which could be a good thing. Elected bodies have a history of being accountable to the wants and the needs of the people. Democracy is good, right?”

Mayor Gahan Appoints Kenneth Brooks to Human Rights Commission

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Earlier this month, Mr. Cliff Staten submitted a resignation letter to the Human Rights Commission. Mr. Staten will be moving to Florida and will no longer be able to serve on the Commission.

In order to fill this vacancy, Mayor Gahan is pleased to appoint Mr. Kenneth Brooks to serve on the Human Rights Commission. Mr. Brooks is a U.S. Navy Veteran and a retired small businessman.

“I believe I offer the commission a unique perspective and skill set,” stated Mr. Brooks. “I am a service veteran offering the benefit of experiences learned from working with a diverse team for our national good. As someone who has been both an employee and a small business owner, I can offer unique experiences felt by both positions. As an African American, I have experienced the challenges our community faces in overcoming bias based on race and other identity.”

“I appreciate Mr. Brooks stepping up to serve on the Human Rights Commission,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan. “He has accepted and committed to a 3 year term and we are grateful for his service to New Albany.”