In testimony before the Board of Public Works and Safety, which gathered Wednesday in a special evening session at the Calumet Club, numerous citizens spoke to the board, and the following was established beyond reasonable doubt:
They foul the streets and alleys with refuse.
They let their pets run rampant.
They drive too fast/recklessly/loudly/badly.
They don’t control their teenagers.
They refuse to maintain their property properly.
They sell, use and advocate drugs.
They are slumlords and just don’t care.
Perhaps Pogo was right, after all.
So, Tony, Steve and Chas -- you thought it would be easy serving on the Board of Public Works and Safety?
It was known well in advance that the most pressing issue on the agenda would be the future status of a section of Locust Street by New Albany High School and Hazelwood Middle School.
This part of Locust has remained closed during long years of seemingly endless school construction, and residents of Depauw Avenue and surrounding streets have grown correspondingly weary of heavy traffic through their neighborhoods.
The New Albany-Floyd County Schools insisted that having been given approval to extend their campuses in, around and over Locust, a resumption of traffic would pose a safety threat to the students, primarily during the afternoon when classes let out.
Faced with a crowd eager for a decision, and a Gordian street problem fairly begging for some variety of compromise, the three-member board chose the most rational solution – tabling the measure until July 12, and hopefully allowing time for the tripartite crystal ball to conjure a suggestion or three.
As is customary during the board’s regular Tuesday morning meetings, a wide range of issues were raised and discussed, with the city’s department heads present to take notes and be consulted about those questions falling within their jurisdiction.
Q. When will a bridge on Jolissant and a guardrail on Old Ford be prepared?
A. After it is determined whether the drivers who damaged them have insurance. If not, work proceeds and the driver(s) will be sued.
Q. Is it fair to issue citations for blocking the street sweeper when the streets aren’t being cleaned according to the regular schedule owing to equipment shortages?
A. The law is the law, irrespective.
Q. Should you get a busy signal when calling 9-1-1?
A. No, absolutely not. Police Chief Harl will investigate.
Q. Will the road up Spring Street hill be reopened?
A. Yes, if we can find the money necessary to make repairs the right way.
In addition to the department heads, four of the city’s nine city council representatives attended the public works meeting: Councilmen Blevins, Messer, Kochert and Schmidt.
Councilman Schmidt, who is a regular visitor to works board meetings, seized the occasion of reporting tall weeds at a site in his district to publicly “clear up something I’ve been blamed for,” which was erroneous information “in the paper and so forth” to the effect that he alone stood in the way of he council finalizing ordinance enforcement.
“The Mayor said ‘hold it,’ not us,” said Schmidt, who attributed the delay to waiting for financial signals from the state, then firmly added “I’m not the problem,” although he declined to identify the source of the report to which he referred, leaving most listeners confused but respectful.
3rd District Councilman Steve Price was unavailable for comment, having concluded that the first special night public works board meeting in recent memory, if ever, did not merit his attention and attendance in spite of it being held in his own district and hosted by the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association, one of the city’s most active proponents of community betterment .
Anyone noticing a pattern here?
Perhaps the absent Councilman Price can provide New Albany Confidential with a concert review of the Bob Dylan/Willie Nelson show, held tonight at Louisville Slugger Field, which CM Price also might wish to contemplate as municipal infrastructure investment carried forward by future-thinking visionaries despite the potential threats of nuclear holocaust, shark attack and gangsta rap.