City Moves to Protect Our History

Three historic preservation projects are set to kick off soon in downtown New Albany. The three properties targeted are the Baity Funeral Home along State Street, the Knights of Columbus building on Main Street, and the Reisz building on Main Street.

All three properties will undergo renovations and enhancements, bringing new life to the three historic properties in downtown.

“These projects will all serve three major goals: historic preservation, economic redevelopment, and blight removal,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan. “The city is 200 years old, and it is time for the city to support preservation efforts that will add to the historic character of New Albany.”

Baity Funeral Home

The Baity Funeral Home, also known as the Louis Hartman House, was constructed by S. Day & Sons in 1898, who built many of the city’s finest commercial and residential buildings at the turn of the 20th century. The building, which was showcased in a 2013 book by Ray Day, is a notable example of Queen Anne architecture, featuring corner turrets, multiple bay windows, shingled gables, wraparound columned porch, stained and leaded glass, oak woodwork, parquet flooring, and more.

The building served as the Baity Funeral Home, a prominent African-American business in the community, for over 40 years. Unfortunately, the building was badly damaged in January of 2017 by a fire and threatened with demolition.

Indiana Landmarks, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to saving, restoring, and repurposing historic properties will be relocating their Southern Regional Offices to New Albany to save the endangered Louis Hartman House.

“We hope that revitalization efforts will continue north along the State Street corridor,” stated Greg Sekula of Indiana Landmarks. “This house will really help be the front door for the state street revitalization effort. Preserving our history is really all about sense of place and a community’s character, and what people want today is to connect to that community character. They want a place that has architectural beauty, has walkability, and we are certainly seeing that in our downtown area.”

Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus building is set to receive a new façade, bringing the building up to modern service. The Knights of Columbus has seen a resurgence as of late, with many citizens utilizing the facility, and engaging in charity work and community service at many levels throughout the community.

“It will benefit from the government level all the way down to the local level,” stated city councilman Dan Coffey.

Reisz Building

The historic Reisz Building on Main Street was constructed in the 1852 and was home to a flour mill. It then served as the Kraft Funeral Home, followed by the M. Fine & Sons shirt factory. The Reisz has also served as the home of the Graf Harness and Saddlery Shop, and has also been utilized by the Schmitt Furniture Company.

After being vacant for decades, the Reisz is set to be fully renovated and be the future home of city operations. The building is currently in poor structural condition, and was nearing the point of demolition if an investment was not made soon.

“The Reisz Building is currently an unsafe structure. The building is in a place right now where either something needs to be done, or it needs to come down for the safety of the community. We are dealing with massive settling of the structure, deteriorated posts and beams are holding it up, and if these issues are not corrected soon, could cause irreversible damage. Based on a recent safety inspection, these problems could have dire consequences for the building and those surrounding it if not corrected,” stated Building Commissioner David Brewer.

“This project is the perfect example of how historic preservation, blight removal, and economic redevelopment can come together to create a great project,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan. “By removing the blight from the area and saving this historic structure, the entire corridor will benefit. We have worked to try to find a solution for the building for years, but given the scale and condition of the property, it was difficult to find a private investor that could tackle the entire property and save this historic and full-of-character structure.”

“To come in and have a user that will redevelop the whole property – it will be a substantial investment. I think people will be very happy to see the interest coming in and redeveloping it, and it will also help the surrounding businesses see that their investment is going to be further complemented by the public investment in the Reisz building,” stated Mike Kopp, a prominent real estate developer who has helped transform historic structures for new uses.

The move in city operations makes sense not just for historic preservation, blight removal, and economic redevelopment purposes, but for basic finances of the city as well.

“It will save us money in the long-run to move out of the city-county building and to purchase the Reisz, and it will help cleanup a part of downtown,” stated city councilman Dan Coffey.

Currently, the city rents space from the county building authority at a cost of nearly $190,000 per year. The new city hall in the Reisz building will have 23,000 square feet, compared with the current 7000 square foot space leased in the city-county building. In the current building, the city pays $25.71 per square foot. In the new space, the cost will be reduced dramatically to $9.20 per square foot.

“When this project is complete, the residents of New Albany will own a new, modern city hall. Instead of throwing away our community’s tax dollars on rent, we will be investing in and saving a historic property that will be owned by the community and utilized for years to come,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan.

Last 4 Shows For The 2017 Bicentennial Park Summer Concert Series

Calling all live-music lovers - the final four shows of the 2017 Bicentennial Park Summer Concert Series are coming! As a reminder, there will be no show on Friday, August 4th. This date served as our rain-out date for the annual Riverfront Independence Day Festival. 

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful season - and we hope to see you out at the final four shows of this year!

Special thanks to our sponsors, McNeely Stephenson, Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County, and our radio partner 91.9 WFPK. Additional thanks to the New Albany City Council and Mayor's office.

Bicentennial Park, located at the corner of Spring and Pearl in downtown NA.

Bicentennial Park, located at the corner of Spring and Pearl in downtown NA.

AUGUST 11TH  NICK DITTMEIER AND THE SAWDUSTERS 
A four piece Americana band from Louisville, KY. Through relentless touring, they’ve become mainstays of the Midwest Americana scene. In September of 2015, they set ten highway-tested, fine-tuned songs loose in the confines of LA LA Land Studios. The result is “Midwest Heart/Southern Blues”. The new album is a gritty, upbeat collection of songs, full of characters who were developed while staring over the dash of a beat up Ford van cruising through towns in the South and Midwest, whose better days are behind them. The Sawdusters will be on the road in 2016 and beyond. For fans of The Band, Little Feat, and the Turnpike Troubadours.

AUGUST 18TH BROOKS RITTER  with SILVER SPOONS
Brooks Ritter debuted his newest album, Stereo of Steel, on August 26, 2016. Ritter is a Louisville, Kentucky native musician, and his music ranges from “soul to roots music, with a little indie-rock.” Stereo of Steel follows the same pattern with 10 original songs. Ritter has toured with various bands during his music career, including Sara Watkins from Nickel Creek, Greg Laswell, Anderson East, Zella Day, Ben Sollee, and others. 

Silver Spoons is a three piece indie pop-rock band hails from Louisville, Kentucky. Their first five song EP Ready, Set, Stay was released in the fall of 2014 and they are currently recording a follow up EP.

AUGUST 25TH CIRCUS NO. 9  with PENTLY HOLMES 
Based out of East Tennessee, Circus No.9 is a new progressive acoustic group that embraces the influence of Bluegrass, Americana, and Folk. The group has appeared on stage alongside artists including David Grisman, Bryan Sutton, Larry Keel, and more. With awarded musicians Matthew Davis (2016 National Banjo Champion), Thomas Cassell (2016 Rockygrass Mandolin Champion), and Colin Hotz, Circus No.9 is taking the new acoustic scene by force.

Phillpsburg New Jersey native, Pentley Holmes is truly that rare artist whose work achieves both technical and emotional brilliance. A self taught guitarist, pianist, and vocalist, Pentley is as well-rounded musically as they come. Pentley’s signature blend of contemporary folk and soul pop make his music as easy on the ear as it is on the heart. With an acoustic EP forthcoming, Pentley is undoubtedly one to watch.

SEPTEMBER 1ST ZLP - ZACH LONGORIA PROJECT
The Zach Longoria Project is an 11-member band with an incredibly soulful vein. With R&B seated at the core of their music, ZLP weaves elements of jazz and a touch of old-school this & that to create what they like to call “Kentucky Fried Soul”. Their music has just the right amount of the south mingled in.

ZLP is a collaboration of musicians who are all in it for the love of music, and are driven by the passion of creating it. They came together in 2013 in a town that is much smaller than it seems. Zach had a vision early- to have a band that was made up of people who are good to each other and share the same set of values, musically and by virtue. This group is a close-knit partnership of kindred spirits, and it shines through in the music they put forth.

Mayor Gahan Addresses Concerns and Shares History of Hausfeldt Property

Below is a brief history of our efforts to understand and mitigate the conditions at the private property on Hausfeldt Lane. Once again, the property has been in the news and it has become a concern to a number of residents. Please read, copy, and share this with others. Your efforts to share this information will greatly help us take steps to improve the condition there, but equally important, it will help others understand our desire to protect the property rights and the privacy of the landowner. This is a very unusual problem, and we are working closely with the courts to resolve it in a manner which is respectful to all parties.

Thanks everyone,
Mayor Jeff Gahan


The property located at 519 Hausfeldt Lane is within the City of New Albany’s Unincorporated Two-Mile Fringe area.

From October 2, 2009 to September 9, 2014, the property was owned by Judith Bischoff.  On September 9, 2014, a quit-claim deed was issued conveying the property to Jarrett Hamilton; however, Mr. Hamilton has lived on the property since 2009.  Ms. Bischoff lived with Mr. Hamilton until late 2014.

On February 19, 2013, City of New Albany Building Commissioner, David Brewer, did an inspection of the property and found several violations.  On February 22, 2013, Mr. Brewer sent a final notification to Ms. Bischoff in which he advised her of the violations and ordered her to remove all “refuse and blight” within ten days.  If the issues were not remedied by March 5, 2013, Ms. Bischoff was advised that the City would obtain a court order to have the debris and cars removed at her expense. 

In May 2013, the Floyd County Health Department contacted the City of New Albany Building Commissioner’s Office concerning the code related violations on this property.  During this time, the Floyd County Health Department issued a notice of violation and order to abate to the property owners, with the first one dated May 1, 2013, and the second and final notice dated May 16, 2013. The notice dated May 16, 2013 advised that the matter had then been referred the Health Board Attorney, Rick Fox, where no further action was taken.

On May 24, 2013, Mr. Brewer sent a letter to both Ms. Bischoff and Mr. Hamilton advising them that the property had been deemed a hazard and the City would conduct a cleanup on June 6-7, 2013.  Both Ms. Bischoff and Mr. Hamilton were present when the City carried out the cleanup on the property in June 2013. 

On August 8, 2014, the City filed a complaint against Ms. Bischoff in the Floyd Superior Court, requesting an emergency inspection of the property.  The court entered an order granting the City the right to conduct an emergency inspection of the property the same day. 

On February 5, 2015, the City filed a motion seeking authorization to conduct a cleanup of the property.  In the motion, the City referred to the situation as “an emergency” and alleged “there is refuse on the outside allowing rats and other vermin to flourish and presents a hazard to surrounding neighbors.”  On February 9, 2015, the court granted the motion and the City conducted a cleanup that same month.  After the cleanup, threats were made against city staff based upon the Court authorized cleanup. 

Following the 2015 cleanup, Mr. Hamilton appealed to the Federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.  The lawsuit filed by Mr. Hamilton based upon the previous cleanup in 2015 was in Federal Court throughout the entire year of 2016 to present.  The case is still currently pending in front of the Court of Appeals.    

In the meantime, the City again filed a suit against Mr. Hamilton on June 22, 2017 stating he is using the property as junkyard, creating a hazard to public health and a public nuisance.  Mr. Hamilton is not cooperating in the process, and due to previous threats to City of New Albany staff members, court approval and police assistance is necessary before stepping onto the property.

Numerous issues involving the home owner and safety exist, which require the legal system to make fair, unbiased and authorized decisions in order to protect individual property rights.  We support and allow due process to proceed to protect all those involved, but as we have demonstrated in the past, the City will act with prudence to protect the health of all citizens in the fringe areas or the incorporated City of New Albany. 

City Receives Grant for Tree Inventory to Promote Long-Term Urban Canopy Strategy

In January of 2017, the City of New Albany received a $20,000 matching grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, as part of the 2016 Community and Urban Forestry Assistance grant project.

“This investment to protect our tree canopy is way overdue. I want to thank the Tree Board and the City Council for having the foresight to improve the health and future of our hardwood tree population. The health of our urban forest is vital to all living things in our ecosystem. These improvements will benefit everyone for many years to come,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan.

The Community and Urban Forestry Assistance grant project includes funding for tree inventories, management plans and ordinance updates, purchase of trees, planting trees, and urban forestry education programming, including publications, signage, and more to encourage comprehensive urban forest management and better public understanding of urban forestry topics.

Cherry Street - Photo by Bass Group Real Estate

Cherry Street - Photo by Bass Group Real Estate

"Urban area expansion and inner-city decline is a national problem that continues to impact basic ecological functions essential to a healthy and productive society. Healthy trees and forests in urban areas contribute to improved air and water quality, watershed function, energy conservation, physical and social well-being. The quality of life in cities and towns will be enhanced by effective state programs that foster cooperative efforts to plan for, plant, protect, and maintain community trees, forests, and related natural resources." – Indiana DNR Community and Urban Forestry Assistance Grant 2016

The City of New Albany has begun a Tree Inventory that logs every tree located in the City of New Albany rights-of-way, and describes not only the location, but the species, condition, size, and other basic stats of each tree. Once this inventory is complete, a Comprehensive Management Plan will be drafted to help the city manage its tree canopy.

The Loop Island Wetlands.

The Loop Island Wetlands.

“In addition to providing an illustration of the overall health and condition of our city trees, this is a critical step in directing future development of our urban forest. We want to ensure that future projects take into account areas for additional plantings, development of a diverse canopy, and the long term vitality of our public trees,” stated Krisjans Streips, Chief Planner for the City of New Albany and Tree Board staff.

The City of New Albany has hired ArborPro, Inc., an urban forestry consulting company, to perform the inventory and draft the management plan. ArborPro has begun the inventory process, and estimates that the overall inventory will take about a month to complete. After the management plan has been completed, the administration plans to ask for the Tree Board and City Council's help in funding the long-term tree canopy strategy.

For more information, or for any questions regarding the project, please contact Krisjans Streips, Chief Planner for the City of New Albany at 812-948-5333.

Historic Cast Iron to be Restored at Culbertson Mansion

The Culbertson Mansion is set to tackle its largest capital improvement project to date with a full restoration of the home's cast iron. Since its construction 150 years ago, the cast iron throughout the property has endured significant damage, and the preservation of this architectural feature has become one of the state's top priorities.

"The City of New Albany is the proud host of one of the state's most popular historic sites, the Culbertson Mansion. We are thrilled to announce these renovations which will retain the original character of the Culbertson home. Many thanks to the Tourism Bureau for realizing the role New Albany plays in bringing tourists to Southern Indiana, and to Jessica Stavros with the State of Indiana for her dedicated efforts to restore the historic property," stated Mayor Gahan.

The City of New Albany was recently awarded $825,000 for tourism-friendly projects and amenities. Other projects include riverfront improvements, like boat ramps, campgrounds, fishing areas, hiking, water recreation, nature trails, and more. A portion of this grant money will go the Culbertson Mansion Cast Iron Restoration Project.

At a cost of nearly one million dollars, the cast iron restoration will tackle the Mansion's fence, limestone retaining walls, walkways, all four exterior porches, and several other features. Additionally, the Culbertson Mansion plans to host a series of workshops for those interested in cast iron restoration.

"We want to ensure that our community is aware of what goes into a project like this, especially since Cast Iron is such a prominent feature of New Albany's historic homes. Most of these pieces were forged right here in New Albany, or across the river in Louisville, so we invite our friends and neighbors to stay involved with us throughout the process," added Jessica Stavros.

Work is expected to begin this Fall, and no site closures are anticipated.