Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Good news: There'll be a Celts on the River concert in 2012. Bad news ...

NA Confidential has just learned that this year's Celts on the River concert will be held on Saturday, September 8 ... in downtown Jeffersonville, not New Albany. Apparently the Jeff parks department made a better offer to the festival's governing committee, and it was accepted.

It is uncertain whether (a) there even remains a standing riverfront events committee in New Albany since the mayoral changeover, or (b) if this events committee was consulted prior to the festival's shift.

Certainly the fact that Jeffersonville's negotiations have been conducted by an official, ongoing arm of the city's government, irrespective of the current occupant, and as opposed to the ad hoc committee-as-political-appendage approach favored by the previous England administration, played a part in this decision.

I'm optimistic that entrepreneurs can provide ample activities for New Albany's riverfront amphitheater.

If we let them.

Gonder with a different notion of the bicentennial and its park.

In his blog, at-large council person John Gonder considers New Albany's approaching bicentennial, ponders the deeper meaning, and offers a new twist on the idea of building a park for the purpose. In short, he again makes me happy I've voted for him.

To date, all we've heard amid the secrecy of the usual suspects is a by-the-numbers celebration of the past. As Gonder instinctively grasps, the bicentennial must be open, inclusive and addressing the future. It isn't too late to rescue the occasion from the icy clutches of self-assigned respectability, is it?

Seeds Are For Planting

New Albany's bicentennial is our chance to speak to those who follow us in time to this place, a place we will not go. So far I have heard little of what we will bring to the party ...

... I offer the following modest proposal: we should build a Bicentennial Park worthy of the momentous date we commemorate next year ...

... I believe the Bicentennial Park should help us show our children and our grandchildren why New Albany is here, and why it is special to us. It is difficult to convey civic sentiment through time. We do that by building for the future.


Gahan tosses England executive order into trash. Let's hope the spring cleaning continues.

Good move on Mayor Gahan's part. The executive order may have been 11th hour, but it was sweepingly indicative of the England administration's chronically cavalier attitude toward transparency, a chronic absence of which is what the past four years primarily will be remembered as providing -- in abundance.
(Feb 1 update: Later news reports had the order dating to July, 2011, and being discovered in January, 2012) 

Executive re-decision: Gahan rejects England’s executive order for health insurance; Former mayor among administrative workers set to receive benefits, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — An executive order written by former New Albany Mayor Doug England granting the option for a retiring administrative employee to continue receiving city medical insurance was rescinded by current Mayor Jeff Gahan on Jan. 20.

Gahan confirmed Monday he wrote an executive order overturning England’s 2011 decision because he “had an issue with the process” ...

... His decision wasn’t based on condemnation of the idea, but how the matter was handled, Gahan continued.

“I think it has some merit,” he said of providing the insurance option to retiring administrative employees.

“But that all needs to be handled in a larger discussion of insurance for city employees.

Community gardening update.

I'm not going to kid you. I've no personal aptitude for gardening, and would rather ride my bike in summer, but Michele's efforts to enhance community gardening consciousness are much appreciated, and the idea itself is something to be rallied around even by those of us unlikely to come out of it with dirty hands. 

---

Hi Everyone,

It seems as though we have the attention we need to prove support for NA Community Gardens. (applause :) We also have several possible sites... That leads us to the next step. We need a plan. Actually, a few!

1. Who is interested in a community garden that is totally for the people? Anyone can come pick at any time and the garden belongs to everyone! A wonderful philanthropic approach to a community garden and certainly a great way to
dissolve greed and promote sharing.

2. Who is interested in a community garden that will provide you with your own plot for a fee? This style will also have a community plot that will be tended to by all members and will be donated to a non profit of choice.

3. Who is interested in Parklettes? Parklettes are small parks that provide green space for the community. A couple of fruit trees, a bench and a path is all you really need and it is relatively inexpensive to start.

I'm going to ask everyone to introduce themselves and address these ideas to the Yahoo group. It is very time consuming for me to gather and redistribute information to each and every one. The sooner we start functioning as a whole the sooner I believe we will see results! There is a very good possibility we will be starting at least one garden this spring, more than likely two or three. Let's keep the momentum going and make our city cleaner and our property more profitable by using the resources that are available to us!

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NAcommunitygardens/

In case you haven't heard the farmer's market is open every other weekend and I have started a Grateful Greens hydroponic produce pick up at Destinations Booksellers every other week. I'm putting orders in for Thursday and you can email me nagreens(at)gmail(dot)com if you would like more information.

Business Support Offered

1. Earthly Goods has offered seed donations
2. Prosser has said there are possibilities in growing seeds and making our
raised beds for a small fee.
3. Rauch Inc is interested in helping with the project & garden design.
4. Grateful Greens wants to help.
5. Keep New Albany Clean & Green, a local non profit is offering support.
6. Floyd Action Network FAN would like to support the gardens.

If there are any name that need to be added please feel free to reply with an update. I am amazed at the support that is quickly showing us the possibilities of a true community effort!

Thank you all for your interest in New Albany! Possibilities are every where!

Michele Finn
Grass Roots!
Keep New Albany Clean & Green

Monday, January 30, 2012

With luck, they'll fight over the use of 8th & Culbertson as campaign headquarters.


Powerful stuff. But are "sharing" ideas too "political" for timid Main Street organizations?

There's a lot to chew on here; thanks Andy.

The blog is Strong Towns, and the article is Shared Space. The ideas for debating therein remind us that in so many ways, New Albany is sufficiently degraded at this point in time to conceivably serve as a bold laboratory of innovation, and yet we are held back from doing so not so much by short funds, but from the perpetual cautious urge on the part of community pillars to endlessly repeat their previous failed tactics.

Here's the intro:
The concept of building shared space within the public realm is a radical one here in the United States, where automobiles are not only given priority, but completely dominate most public spaces. With the financial insolvency inherent in our current approach becoming more and more apparent each day, there is a need to study alternatives. The shared space model -- while a dramatic departure from the status quo -- can help us build Strong Towns while making our urban neighborhoods safer in the process.

Seidl: The nefariousness of it all.

I certainly hope Gregg ran all this past the Bicentennial Production Code's Hail Caesar Office before publishing this scandalous tome.

Local author uncovers New Albany’s ‘Wicked’ history, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — Murder, suicide and untimely deaths — some of the city’s most sinister acts have been unveiled by local author and historian Gregg Seidl in his latest book titled “Wicked New Albany.”

Sunday, January 29, 2012

And spaces on the street, too.


I received this from JP a couple of weeks ago, and kept forgetting to post it. The gist of it to me is that we have plenty of two things downtown: Parking spaces, and drivers too lazy to walk a couple of blocks. I suppose it might be sugar-coated, but that's the essence, isn't it?

"It is a common assumption amomg urban planners that the health of a city can largely be measured by the amount of acreage given over to surface parking. Here is a map of New Albany's surface lots (in red). I didn't calculate the percentage of acreage, but it looks well > 75%."

Thanks for the photo and frequent input, JP. I hate to see you guys leave, but good luck in the future.

If the director of Community Housing Initiatives is involved, does it mean Legacy Square will have condos?


In a single news story, the News and Tribune’s Daniel Suddeath provides one of the best ever assessments of New Albany’s perennially comic pandemic of cross-pollinated, multiple-board staffed, conflicted-interested, “but I know better than you”, backdoor-dealing, palm-greasing, sheer caterwauling dysfunction of a “ruling” class.

Blessed with such a wealth of material, Suddeath coolly functions as concise journalistic straight man, permitting the words of the principle players to function as self-hoisting petard mechanisms. Excellent work.

In this instance, the narrower topics are a rapidly approaching Bicentennial, the future of the former slumlord property in the epicenter of downtown, and how many hundreds of thousands of dollars it will take to bring to fruition the specific vision of just one from a handful of competing community political pillars, who are united only in a determination that whatever planning is done might occur with as little public input as possible.

But the story might have been written to describe the local political process as it pertains to any number of civic matters doomed to perpetual misfiring in precisely the same fashion.

New Albany council may be asked for more funds for Bicentennial Park; Horseshoe Foundation yet to vote on construction grant

Benedetti said the council has been supportive of bicentennial events, and the body wants to ensure any projects associated with the celebration are handled appropriately.

In a larger sense, we’re only one month into the new mayoral administration, and already the probable course of the coming years can be clearly grasped.

The new council president, who seemingly regards a razor-thin election squeak-through as mandate, has spotted a power vacuum, and now she will be weaving spider webs from her adroitly chosen, power-brokering seats on Redevelopment and the Horseshoe Foundation.

Her chief council enabler from the 2nd council district will rally the DNA shock troops and hoard the Bicentennial portfolio as closely as his fairy godmother will allow, eager to prevent the slightest whiff of counter-cultural impropriety to intrude on his buttoned-down worldview, even as discredited England administration’s operatives who inexplicably remain in positions of authority seek to assert their time-honored influence, simultaneously preparing the ground for the ex-mayor’s forthcoming, doomed candidacy against Ed Clere in the House 72 race.

As for Mayor Gahan, a few simple and unsolicited words of advice should suffice: As it pertains to the Bicentennial, the culture vultures are not going to wait for you to take the initiative, so please do it now.

And as it pertains to every other aspect of running the city?

Same exact advice.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Margin Call: "You're selling something that you know has no value."



We finally found time to watch "Margin Call," and it was worth the effort, if for no other reason than the absence of car chases, explosions and random gunfire. It is a film with characters, dialogue and the possibility of thought. That's enough for me, but I suspect I'm not the typical movie consumer.

Recognition for NABC's Tony Beard at The Pour Curator.


According to The Pour Curator, "There is art. There is beer. This is where they meet." In The Best Beer Label Art of 2011, our man Tony receives lengthy consideration, and I'm delighted for him.

Beard's artwork is consistently as rebellious and outsize as NABC, and consistently thoughtful and well-executed. He's also quite prolific, and updates designs often.

Cars are bad enough. Walk it across, for safety's sake.

At 6:00 p.m. in winter on a Yum Center event night, a bicyclist riding on the sidewalk of an overcrowded bridge -- the only way for non-motorized vehicles to get across the Ohio short of using a dinghy -- hits a pedestrian, knocking him into traffic, and prompting the Jeffersonville police spokesman to utter the nonsensical admonition that cyclists should be on an expanse of asphalt which is entirely and absolutely unpatrolled in the best of times, and where cyclists previously have been killed and their killers not prosecuted by the cowardly local enforcement and justice arms.

I generally defend cyclists, and the one biking in this instance was right to use the sidewalk lest he be killed himself by distracted drivers (the only sidewalk exception I'm willing to tolerate owing to the danger of the area), but he was in the wrong when it came to the way he chose to use the sidewalk. One should only be cycling in saddle at full speed on that accursed bridge when visibility is perfect. Many is the time I've walked my bike across it in deference to pedestrians, because it is their sidewalk, not mine. Ultimately, all of it owes to the near comical shortsightedness of autocentric metro officials and political ciphers, but we already knew that, didn't we?

Pedestrian in critical condition after Clark bridge accident, by Harold J. Adams (Courier-Journal)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Washing on the water should be easier in a river town, shouldn't it?


Rocking RateBeer's list.

(Gravity Head returns ... Friday, February 24)

RateBeer.com's list of "Best Beer Bars 2012" has NABC's original Public House in fourth place, nationwide.

An accompanying "Best Beer Retailers 2012" places Keg Liquors (Clarksville/New Albany) at 44th.

I'm fairly ambivalent about beer ratings, but there are two things about such rankings that I always find pleasing.

First, just being included as part of any conversation about best beer bars is reward enough for me. I've always felt we deserve to at least be mentioned, and I'll leave the exact numbers to others.

Second, it's wonderful to see New Albany's name alongside New York, Chicago, New Orleans and San Diego in an accounting of the best of anything.

Obviously, we could not do any of it without our workers and without you, the customer. Your patronage is much appreciated, and we thank you.

In 2012, we mark 25 years for the business overall (founded 1987), 20 years for me at the Public House, and 10 years as a brewery. Once upon a time, I sat down at a bar somewhere with a pint of Guinness in hand, and the next time I looked up, a career seemed to have found me. Problem is, I still don't know what I'd like to do when I grow up.

Previously: Thanks to LEO Readers' Choice voters for thinking of NABC.

Group convenes to take credit, and does. A lot.

I can find approximately 108,000 reasons to raise an eyebrow, but what the hey ... let them have their day.

Pillars of the community: Develop New Albany hands out Pillar Awards to local businesses, leaders, by Daniel Suddeath

(photo credit)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Perhaps he's talking about free sidewalks.

Occasionally one spies a sentence that is completely confusing. First, the sensible part:

Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission considers forgivable loan program, by David A. Mann (N and T)

JEFFERSONVILLE — A proposed program that would offer new restaurants the incentive to locate in Jeffersonville through forgivable loans got some consideration Wednesday night by members of the Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission.

Then the weird part:

“Everybody was totally for the program,” said James Lake, a current commission member who also served on the board last year.

He said such programs have worked to stimulate business in New Albany.

I'm not sure of which Lake speaks. Is he thinking about the Horseshoe Foundation's revolving loan program? But it isn't just for restaurants, and it is not forgivable.

I'm not sure what he means. Is Paul Wheatley reading?

Billow's got 'em, so smoke one at the new shop's grand opening on Friday.


Echoing my life's theme of being careful what one wishes for, the advent of Billow has complicated my life in a fashion similar to the proliferation of downtown eateries and watering holes, which is to say there are many more places for me to spread my presumed wealth.

I will continue to patronize Kaiser's, in addition to Billow. The latter's proximity to Quills is enticing, and yet periodically a trip over to Hobknobb for espresso is justified. Working harder to earn the cash for habit support poses certain complications in terms of time. I have little cash and no time.  

Let's hope that come fair weather, there'll be some outdoor smoking benches at Billow. In the meantime, the shop is celebrating on Friday:

This Friday is Billow's grand opening, with NABC and Irish Exit lending a hand.

ON THE AVENUES: They didn't ask.

ON THE AVENUES: They didn't ask. 

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

(There was a special edition of this column on Monday: ON THE AVENUES MONDAY SPECIAL: River View's sweet dreams are not enough)

After the rear wall of the 153-year-old Peter Weinmann building at 8th and Culbertson crumbled early in 2011, there was an Indiana Landmarks-led rescue effort. Something about it kept bothering me.

Having previously served a stint on the board of the Urban Enterprise Association, I had a hazy notion that elements of “our” program for the zone might have applied to the situation with the deteriorating structure, but being out of practice and otherwise distracted by work, I couldn’t piece it all together.

Eventually I asked my question to the UEA’s director, Mike Ladd, and he filled in the blanks. I wanted to write about it then, but readers must understand that everyday life for the UEA during the final year of the England/Malysz administration’s last-ditch, crony-empowering megalomania was exceedingly difficult. While the 8th and Culbertson situation was discussed often here at the blog, I remained generally cautious, worried lest the tottering administration’s clear assault on the UEA worsen in intensity.

Now it’s 2012, and in spite of the big flush at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the UEA’s future remains almost as unclear as before. Once again there have been proposals at the state level to dismantle the program, which in my view would be a foolish mistake given what the zone is capable of providing to the community.

Here in New Albany, both council and mayor must finalize their UEA board appointments; without these, there can be no board, no meetings, and among other things, no pay packet for Mike Ladd – which is profoundly unfair to him, although just a bit outside my reasoning for covering this material today.

The question I asked Ladd last year was this: “Was there a better way to save the building at 8th and Culbertson?”

Here is his response, tardy but thought-provoking.

---

"Being inside the Urban Enterprise Zone, the building at Eighth and Culbertson is eligible for the EZ-2 Investment Deduction; meaning that the purchase price and any subsequent improvements are eligible for the tax credit, as long as a private party makes the purchase.

"However, the EZ-2 does not work for Indiana Landmarks, which now owns the building. The reason is because Indiana Landmarks is a nonprofit organization and this deduction applies to for-profit entities only.

"The best-case scenario would have been for the purchaser to buy the building in its then-collapsed condition. The purchaser then could have applied to the county assessor’s office for a new (and probably lower) assessed value. Had we been involved, we would have assisted the purchaser with that effort.

"Currently the property is assessed in the $74,000 range. The purchaser could have bought the property for $20K (which is the price Indiana Landmarks paid), gotten the property reassessed and then begun his or her improvements. This new assessed value ($74,000 or lower) would have been set as his assessed value for the next decade once he claimed the EZ-2 Investment Deduction.

"As it stands now, the taxable portion of the stabilization costs actually increase the assessed value of this building, thus reducing the potential savings the new buyer could have claimed. The purchase price under the increased assessed value plus his improvements will now be all he can claim. Just to make it clear: any purchaser has lost out on the savings he could have realized without anyone stabilizing the structure.

"To further illustrate the point: We know that it costs $80K ($20K for purchase plus $60K for stabilization) to put the building into usable condition. This $80K has the effect of increasing the final assessed value at the time the private purchaser makes the buy. Now we’re looking at an assessed value of $154,000 instead of $74,000. (I’m talking theoretically on the assessed value here, but it illustrates the point. I doubt the assessed value will be $154,000, but the stabilization costs will definitely increase the assessed value significantly.)

"The stabilization costs are going to add to the increased assessed value because Indiana Landmarks, Redevelopment Commission, Horseshoe Foundation and the Enterprise Zone are all non-profit or governmental entities, and are not eligible to apply for the EZ-2 investment deduction and therefore not eligible to apply at this time (or any other) for this deduction.

"The bottom line is that any purchaser has been deprived of additional savings he could have realized over a decade-long period; limited funds from the public and non-profit sectors have been diverted from (arguably) other important projects."

---

In December of 2011, the News and Tribune quoted Greg Sekula of Indiana Landmarks:

"Sekula said a contractor signed an intent-to-purchase agreement to buy the property if the structure can be upgraded within a certain time frame, and there’s other interested parties in the building as well."

To be sure, it’s far too late for this question, but in light of what the UEA might have been able to do to help prospective buyers of the Peter Weinmann building, and owing to fundamental considerations of transparency, surely it’s fair to ask whether any of these zone mechanisms were mentioned during the original closed-door meetings, which led to the quintessential New Albanian “rescue” plan by power-broker’s diktat?

Why ask?

It’s because transparency is important, and in this case, there was none. It’s because we always should learn from our experiences, so as to avoid past difficulties and promote better future decision-making. It’s because the UEA already has a toolbox, and doesn't it make sense to use the UEA toolbox as part of a pre-emptive, pro-active plan, as opposed to casting around for convenient ATMs to be plucked when a crisis like this finally comes?

Of course, it also makes more sense to enforce the ordinances we already have as a city, so our elderly buildings and the people in them are not neglected to the point of collapse … but one miracle at a time, please.

Beer dinner with Alsatian choucroute, coming in March to Louis le Francais.

There have been periodic nods to French culture as glimpsed in downtown New Albany in recent years, primarily through Bastille Day observances, first at the late, lamented Bistro New Albany, and later at Bank Street Brewhouse during Chef Josh's tenure.

Speaking in broad American terms, there always seems to be a higher level of consumer resistance to Gallic language and culture, and I do not exclude myself from this observation. German and Slavic regions have proved more to my taste. Perhaps it is the language, or more likely the historical baggage, although I hasten to add that I've never once had a bad experience travelling in France, even in the much-reviled capital, Paris.

For all these reasons, it is both amazing and encouraging that Louis Retailleau chose New Albany's reviving downtown as the site of his Louis Le Francais restaurant. As you might expect, he's a wine-first kind of guy, but open to outside encouragement, as emanating from my friend Tim "Starlight Distribution" Eads. In short, a beer dinner is being planned for March, and you can learn more about it here:

Advance notice: Beer dinner and Alsatian choucroute garnie at the Frenchman's.

Genuine Alsatian choucroute in New Albany? Am I dreaming?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Non-recusals, Wendy's, 2009, The Gary, a roadway and lessons never learned.

Readers with long memories (they are to be pitied, in a way) will recall it starting back in spring of 2009, when The Gary (McCartin) wanted to turn a green space into non-permeable asphalt by moving the Wendy's from a regrettably expanding old-school suburban doughnut hole to a spanking new exurban location on Charlestown Road by the rockin' Interstate, where the Hummers and private autos roam.

The plan snaked its way through the scores and snores of various bureaucratic channels and came to rest in city council packets, where it devolved into an epic, multi-meeting struggle between the adjacent neighborhood and The Gary's Krafty John.

Live blogging 4: Council votes on The Gary's Wendy's fetish.

Jaws drop as Messer, Coffey execute simultaneous 180-degree flip-flops, killing Wendy's ... for now?

Okay, I'll say it: Messer and Coffey unite to promote cynicism in Wendy's flip-flop.

Ah, the humanity ... or lack thereof.

There was a first council reading, and then a second and third, both occurring with the council short one member; afterwards, the then-council attorney Stan Robison dramatically reversed the finality of those 4-4 ties, and so fourth and fifth readings were scheduled and recorded. After the Messer/Coffey flip-flops finally came to rest, The Gary had been ingloriously defeated, and he stormed away in a pique, muttering about never doing anything for this ungrateful community, ever again -- a promise we piously hope he's keeping.

Except that he had the last Wendy's laugh: A few months later, all was moot when McCartin found a convenient zoning-supported spot nearby to make the community even fatter then before from heart-healthy burger grease.

All of this came back to me today when I noticed in the newspaper that the final resting place of Wendy's on Charlestown Road had so altered the traffic dynamic that the Board of Public Works and Safety had been compelled to consider changes to the roadway.

New signal in design for Charlestown Road; Light would be adjacent to new Wendy’s (Suddeath; OSIN)


New Albany City Council President Diane McCartin-Benedetti said Sam’s ownership needed to be alerted of the plan, though the board of works would still have to approve the actual installation of the signal.


That'd be the CeeSaw-coup-mandated council president Benedetti, also a council delegate to Redevelopment, now graciously helping to broker a traffic solution, and the knowledge of this reminded me of something else about that legendary 2009 council clash, as framed by the inimitable Bob Dusch during public comments about the Wendy's move.

Live blogging: City council meeting of March 19, 2009.


Bob Dusch - (It's an) "end run" to develop commercially. Explains that zoning laws exist to protect property owners. Waste of neighborhood and council time. "We will have been sold out for a hamburger joint ... Wendy's isn't even owned locally." Mrs. Benedetti is now singled out. She ran as Diane MCCARTIN Benedetti. How can she vote on bro's project? (Even the) Tribune pointed out the seeming conflict of interest ... "appearance is important."

Benedetti responds: Yes I ran on that basis. I have no capital gain. Voted him down before. I did my research (she gets very hysterical) ... wants to make "solutions not problems." Doesn't have an e-mail address because "I don't want people e-mailing me ... I want them calling me." Now says that brother and the others have actually spoken with Bob. She now gestures to the crowd like Steve Price always does. Now she denigrates downtown New Albany as comparison. She cherishes the exurb. BIG BIG time grandstanding. BIG BIG time grandstanding. No capital gain, no conflict of interest.

New Albany stories typically don't have morals, because for there to be a moral, it is necessary for there to be a lasting lesson. So, I'll stop here.

Even some of the cops get confused by bump-outs and POP-tarts.

As the anonymous newspaper reader comments already show, this is a particularly controversial topic in a city with no shortage of them.

When the POP program first was announced, I had mixed feelings. The idea struck me as progressive and useful -- well nigh retro -- but within a fixed context.

On the other hand, the fact that POP was being implemented in a neighborhood where, comparatively speaking, crime always seemed less of an issue than elsewhere in town (the school is a couple of blocks away from my house) just seemed to heap even more personal disgust at the pervasive cronyism running rampant during the dying days of the third England administration, where it was all fluff, no cattle.

Now what? Who knows?

POP goes the program: Problem Oriented Policing method out in New Albany, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — Instead of concentrating efforts on one neighborhood, New Albany police are now spreading out to better patrol the entire city, NAPD Assistant Chief Greg Pennell said Monday.

Speaking during the New Albany NAACP’s monthly meeting, Pennell said the new police administration’s policy is to implement patrols evenly throughout the city instead of concentrating primarily on one neighborhood.

The position is in contrast to former NAPD Chief Todd Bailey’s Problem Oriented Policing, or POP, plan. Under POP, the department focused a majority of its patrols in the S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood, which was cited by the former administration as a high-crime area.

Beyond patrols, the POP program targeted crimes related to narcotics, gangs and burglaries.

At the same time POP was implemented in SEJ, the area was being re-branded as Midtown led by the $6.7 million federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Bailey touted POP as successfully reducing crime in SEJ, though some city officials questioned the strategy citing lack of patrols in other parts of the city.

Before Bailey was replaced by Mayor Jeff Gahan this year with Chief Sherri Knight, the POP program had been shifted to the Broadmeade neighborhood.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The saga of the Parson's Facebook site continues.

A week ago, I noticed the Clere Channel actually allowing most of the FB posts opposed to Rep. Clere's pro- "right-to-work" position to stand, sans deletion. Indeed, this is a mature and healthy trend, and we must commend it.

Too bad it didn't apply to equally legitimate questions about bridge tolls back in 2010, but what the hey; we can't have it all in NA.

State Representative Ed Clere 
To everyone posting comments here. This is Amy Clere, administrator of this page. Ed and I have no objection to people expressing a variety of opinions on this page and welcome all viewpoints thoughtfully and civilly presented. We do not, however, allow any name calling, overt rudeness, bullying or vulgar language on this wall, even when it is expressed in text message shorthand. "gth," for example, is inappropriate on this page and will be deleted. Ed is unable to get on Facebook while at the statehouse (and he is there all week), but he does read the comments with me on weekends and likes to hear from all of you. Please keep your comments on topic and civil. Thank you for your kind adherence to our page guidelines on this matter. Amy Clere

"Sunlight For A Moonlight Man."

My ambivalence about sports is deeply rooted. There's love and hate in fairly equal measure, and yet this long read by Tom Dinard produced tears over coffee this morning, perhaps because the story reaffirms life itself, with or without baseball.

The Baylor family has its own one-game Yankee pitching appearance story much like Stefan Weyer's, but more closely resembling the fictional Moonlight Graham's. According to legend, my father's uncle supposedly hurled a major league inning or two for the Yankees in the late 1920's. That he was a minor leaguer loosely attached to the Yankees in spring training at the time is probable, albeit not beyond dispute. Unfortunately, a half-century of diligent baseball research on the part of statistics fanatics has failed to yield any evidence that his moment came in a genuine regular season game.

Dinard's piece is worth the time: Sunlight For A Moonlight Man.

Community Gardening meeting is tonight at the Ritter House.

Michele Finn reminds you that the Community Gardens meeting is tonight.

Hello!


This is a quick reminder of the Community Gardens meeting tonight at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Cardinal Ritter House, located at 1218 E. Oak Street in New Albany. This meeting has several purposes.


1. A basic meet and greet for people interested in providing support to the community gardens effort.


2. Sharing the results of the Community Gardens Survey.


3. Providing a place to share ideas/ concerns with having a community garden.


4. Discussing garden design ideas.


5. Discussing garden location possibilities.


Master Gardener Joe Renwick will be present, and has agreed to give us information on how to take soil samples and why they are important.


Just so you all know, I have no desire to start monthly meetings. I think we can work together through emails and phone calls with the occasional meeting. If someone feels differently, please feel free to host a meeting at any time.


Thank you and I'm very happy to have so much support for this not for profit community project. I have asked Wick's, and they have agreed to donate a couple of pizzas for the meeting. If you don't have time for dinner, just get there on the early side and we'll try to make sure you don't go hungry. I understand traffic is making dinner time later for most people. If anyone would like to bring drinks, cups or anything else let me know. I could also use a volunteer for taking notes.


Thanks and hope to see you tonight.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Expanded hours for Earth Friends Cafe.


Earth Friends Cafe & Coffee Bar at 3211 Grant Line Road, Suite 3 (at the Summit Square) has announced new operating hours:

Starting this week, EFC will be open from 8:30am-7:00pm Monday through Thursday. Full menu will be available for dine-in and carry-out. And as always, free wi-fi is up and running. So come chat while your kids are at practice, hang out while your parents are at work, or study just because it's an awesome place with a full coffee bar and café menu focusing on local, organic, fair-trade, and cruelty-free products. Hope to see everyone soon!

New Albany First's newsletter for January, 2012.


(NA First's page at Facebook is frequently updated. You are encouraged to "like" it, and to participate in the ongoing discussion.)

We hope everyone had a great and productive holiday season of 2011. A number of projects are being discussed to better serve the independent business community in 2012, including partnerships with Ivy Tech, IU Southeast, Develop New Albany and the Urban Enterprise Zone. Our "be local" seminars continue as well into the new year. We're excited about the upcoming year, the challenges it will bring and the success we hope to have in helping our independent businesses continue to thrive.

Our "be local" seminar series returns on Thursday, February 2nd starting at 7pm at Strandz and Threadz, located at 322 Vincennes Street in New Albany.
Marketing a Small Business in a Tough Economy


Join us as Allen Howie of Idealogy Marketing + Design shares insights into how a small business on a tight budget can still market effectively by focusing on the right customers, building a memorable brand, having a smart plan and looking for unusual tactics that can cost little but produce a lot.
There still are local sponsorship options for the Go Local, Grow Local 2012 AMIBA national conference to be held in Louisville in March. Contact Andy at newalbanyfirst@gmail.com for more information.

A look ahead at 2012

We'll be inventorying all local, independent businesses in the New Albany area to make it easier for businesses to network together and use each others' services. The more we can do that, the more money stays in our local economy.

Our "be local" seminar series will continue with some great topics/speakers already being lined up. These seminars are being presented, free of charge, to the public to help our current business owners, but also to encourage new ones. We were very happy to see Ryan Rogers, owner of the soon-to-open Feast BBQ, at our last seminar. That's what we hope to continue to do.

We will continue to work on partnerships with various groups. The possible projects with IUS and Ivy Tech are particularly exciting and we look forward to continuing to work hard to make them a reality.

A website should be up in a matter of days. There have been some delays, but we're excited to get it going! It will include a membership page with links to all of our business members websites. The webpage will continue to expand as time goes along.

We plan on bringing in another speaker this summer/fall. We'll have more on that in the future.

Obviously, membership recruitment is huge for us. Any help that our members can provide would be appreciated. Whether it's just a matter of telling fellow business owners about us or participating directly with the board on recruitment strategies, we'd love for you to get involved.

Thanks everyone.

ON THE AVENUES MONDAY SPECIAL: River View's sweet dreams are not enough.


ON THE AVENUES MONDAY SPECIAL: River View's sweet dreams are not enough.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.


At a lazily advertised work session last Thursday evening, New Albany’s city council learned that the River View waterfront development project would no longer be coming to town as originally conceived.

That is, if it comes to town at all.

I couldn’t have been the only onlooker catching an unmistakable whiff of airborne desperation, because far from making the River View dream more palpable by openly addressing past concerns and doing pleasant touch-up work to the architectural renderings, Mainland Properties’ most recent presentation instead revealed a slew of major fundamental alterations.

These changes muddy the project’s conceptual basis, and cry out for intensified scrutiny on the part of city officials, who must yet toss a parking garage into the collection plate before the first pitch is thrown.

Mainland has now gone on record, implicitly or explicitly, as conceding virtually every objection previously voiced about River View. By doing so, it has rendered null and void the alleged toxicity of previous questioners, an obfuscation used to justify the England administration’s persistent inability to be truthful in answering queries about the development.

Improbably, the latest, revised River View build-out raises even more questions than the original version, although predictably, the city council chose to ask none of them at Thursday’s work session. I choose to believe that council members were stupefied by sheer incredulity in the face of the fantasies they were being asked to embrace, and I trust they will recover their senses when River View returns to their inboxes.

---

Critically, the revised three-phase plan for River View 2.0 utterly contradicts Jack Bobo’s oft-stated goal for his project, as stressed time and again from inception: It will enable a bold, game-changing caste of condominium owners in downtown New Albany, whose very presence will “trickle back” myriad benefits to the remainder of the community.

Doubtful in the best of times, but for the sake of argument, I’ll temporarily accept that up-market condominium occupants are capable of single-handedly shifting downtown paradigms, and ask this question:

Given the altered three-phase development plan, what is the chance of these transformational condos ever being built?

In answering, let’s first dispense with the fallacious number “three” in reference to River View’s supposedly escalating phases, each one proceeding from the presumed success of the one before.

Of course, there is a fourth phase, actually the very first phase, and without it, not one other domino can so much as consider falling into place: The city of New Albany’s essential “TIF Tithe” for the construction of a 500-unit parking garage.

Both literally and figuratively, River View is to be built atop this commitment.

We must soberly recognize that no matter the continued expediency of River View’s evolution, the city of New Albany’s founding stake cannot ever change. Without the TIF-enabled parking garage, there is nothing, because Mainland has no capital without it. The city’s opening phase is a fait accompli, and so the city must play its hand cautiously as steadily worsening odds suggest another question:

What is the chance that even with a functional parking garage, River View is ever completed as proposed?

---

Before Thursday’s River View remix, New Albany was to have been promptly rewarded for providing Mainland with the necessary parking garage collateral, in the sense that the vital condominium occupancies would be animated right out of the gate.

Now, with Mainland at long last acknowledging prevailing banking, investment, economic and cultural realities, and admitting to errors in creating so many lofty and unlikely expectations, River View’s entire reason for being – its game-changing condominiums – is being pushed all the way to project’s end, and slated to come last, if at all.

In the interim, before the condos are ever close to coming on line, there are to be rental housing units – perhaps useful to Mainland as cash-flow mechanisms, but to repeat, quite contradictory to every previous stated aim of River View as helping to create a residential ownership society downtown.

Besides, do we really need to strengthen the anti-ordinance enforcement bloc, one traditionally dominated by rental property owners, by adding another bloc of rental properties?

And yet for all of Mainland’s lofty, messianic housing aims, Version 2.0 of River View as now described hinges not on residential occupancy, but retail proliferation. Frankly, that’s a risky proposition, and as a cure, it might be worse than the malady.

Realtor and primary Mainland sales appendage Mike Kopp openly divulged to the council on Thursday that the recent merger of his Blue Sun real estate startup with Remax was for the express purpose of tapping into the latter’s commercial strengths, so as to locate a prime retail anchor tenant for River View. These usual code words reek of chain retail covetousness on Mainland’s part; what are the chances of such a retail anchor tenant being an independent local business?

Worse (better?), what are the chances that any of the coveted, cookie-cutter retail chains will occupy space in downtown New Albany prior to the proximity of new condos, their free-spending owners, and the anticipated ripple effect of their presence? Kopp surely is good at his job. At the same time, he’s no miracle worker.

Furthermore, if the “first” phase of River View (to follow the required parking garage) is about retail occupancy, and if no retail anchor tenant can be found, chain or independent, why would banks and investors mandating the phased-in approach still agree to finance the next rental and condo phases?

And, if River View stalls, how exactly does Mainland “pay” for the necessary parking garage?

---

Let’s review.

River View was supposed to benefit the community by creating a residential ownership society, which would “trickle back” benefits to downtown, justifying a $15 million publicly financed parking garage.

Now, in order to approach this goal, Mainland must create not condos, but retail, and on a scale unseen in downtown New Albany since the 1960’s.

Next, it must build on the retail upsurge by adding rental apartment housing, which already inundates the city.

Then, and only then, Mainland will be able to proceed with the condo ownership society, which from the very beginning was the confidently predicted benefit to the community, one worth a $15 million publicly financed parking garage to achieve.

To some, this revised plan for River View will appear sensible. It is difficult to see how. Speaking personally, I’ve nothing against any of the project’s originators or its acolytes, but I’m as yet unconvinced. It’s sad, because it’s such a nice dream, but River View has no clothes. Wishing won’t make it otherwise, and its time for the city to move on by addressing existing infrastructure needs downtown.

(In 2011 at NACHighlights & Lowlights: Picking and rewarding the River View winners)


Sunday, January 22, 2012

You may go to Facebook and "like" New Albany First -- and that's not a request.


"New Albany First is the only Independent Business Alliance that exists solely to support and promote independent business owners and to educate community members about the importance of buying locally in New Albany and Floyd County."

NA First's page at Facebook is frequently updated. You are encouraged to "like" it, and to participate in the ongoing discussion. If you are an independent small business person doing business locally, NA First is food you should be thinking.

The November election is over. Aren't the yard signs supposed to come down?


There oughta be an ordinance ...

Yo, Democrats: Anyone except England against Clere, please.

For too many years, New Albany’s three-term former mayor, Doug England, thought of himself as the heir-presumptive to the Indiana House sinecure occupied for so many decades by Bill Cochran.

Unfortunately for Hizzoner, time chose not to wait. A Floyd County Democratic Party unable to devise coherent tactics for succession stuck with Cochran for one election too long, and buoyed by thick wads of the GOP’s out-of-state PAC cash, newcomer Ed Clere unseated the incumbent in 2008. England was forced to settle for a third, curiously underachieving term as mayor.

Clere, now comfortably ensconced in the House at least in part because of the local Democratic Party’s serial disorganization, is seeking a third term, and yet again England – who was unable to best Shirley Baird in the recent at-large city council race – is assuring all and sundry that he’s the anointed challenger.

Let's hope it's a dream, and Bobby Ewing comes bounding out of the shower.

Although not without intrinsic entertainment value far transcending even our degraded local political norm, an England candidacy for the House would be a tragically doomed waste of an election cycle for the Democrats. The only way such a run even remotely approaches making sense is as an act of calculated political cynicism.

"After all, it's finally his turn, so let him raise some money and run, and maybe he'll bloody Clere a bit and give us more time to plan."

But this notion implies a depth of strategic acumen seldom witnessed in local Democratic circles. Time to plan? Plan for what? A fourth consecutive Clere win in 2014? Isn’t allotting candidacies by seniority what brought us Walter Mondale’s bold capture of Minnesota (1 down, 49 to go) in 1984?

If our local Democrats wish to arrest the party’s headlong descent into irrelevance – and in fact there are few signs that any of them have any clear ideas how to do so – they’ll surely have to do better than England as "next" against Clere. Barring better, which in itself is a staggering admission of core impotence, they must at least find someone younger.

Rep. Clere is young chronologically, which plays well to the cadres of the Clere Youth brigades, among whom he functions as a matinee idol. Clere’s youth is artfully balanced by the Falangist proclivities of a man at least twice his age; he began his political career by trumpeting a pragmatic centrism, and then once elected, openly bragged of a headlong rush to the right-wing fringe, exciting Floyd County’s geriatric antediluvians, whether Republican or nominally Democratic.

Having previously fumbled away the opportunity to hold Cochran’s once secure seat, and coming gratifyingly close with Shane Gibson last time around, the Democrats must opt for a fresh face, preferably with sensible, progressive, 21st-century grassroots credentials. There might yet occur that rarest of local phenomena, a contest of ideas.

By contrast, an England candidacy would be an exercise in old school down and dirty, with the respective party PACS slugging it out over mailers of extended skeleton hands, boudoir allegations and the occasional graphic designer’s depiction of collegiate moon shots. It would be hilarious, and futile. England has more personal and political baggage than containers filled with plastic trinkets on the deck of a Chinese ship bound for Wal-Mart. The GOP slimings would be vicious, and impossible to refute.

There may be nothing the Democrats can do about Clere’s ongoing incumbency, but the very least the party can do in the interim is give its apparatus a good scrubbing, begin thinking in a future tense, and offer the community a viable alternative. Anyone except England against Clere, please.

Clere Channel Network fails to rig Georgetown town hall meeting, so forced to consider genuine public opinion; ah, the humanity.

It must be an election year, because over at Rep. Ed Clere's Facebook site, most comments on right-to-work expressing opposition to the Parson's own ideology are being permitted to survive, sans the censorship of previous eras. Those of us who were scourged by deletion are deeply appreciative.

As for the town meeting described below by the C-J's Esarey (can't you just see Ron Grooms flailing ineffectually?), NAC's Jeff Gillenwater says it best, and I concur:

Yes, Ed, this is par for the course. Your constituents telling you one thing and you representing the chamber of commerce instead. Tolls, right to work, education... what's next?

---

Legislators get an earful from right to work opponents ... Legislators hold town hall meeting, by Jenna Esarey, (Special to the Courier-Journal)

A town hall meeting in Georgetown on Saturday gave three Republican Indiana legislators a chance to hear the thoughts of their constituents — almost exclusively about the contentious right-to-work bill.

State Sen. Ron Grooms and Rep. Ed Clere said before the meeting at Georgetown Elementary School that they hoped to be able to discuss a number of issues facing the General Assembly, including a statewide smoking ban and a law on human trafficking.

Grooms, Clere and state Rep. Rhonda Rhoads were accompanied by Dale Chu, an assistant superintendent of the Indiana Department of Education, who answered a few questions about education.

But most of the crowd of 75 at the session was there to voice opposition to the right-to-work bill, which would stop any requirements that employees pay fees to unions they don’t join.

“Indiana doesn’t need it,” Jeffboat employee Jim Kincaid, a member of Teamsters Local 89, said of the bill. “Any state it goes to it’s destroyed the economy. It’s just union busting.”

“We’ve got to stop the right-to-work stuff,” agreed Georgetown resident Bill Miller, also a member of Local 89. “It’s plain old simple union busting. They can wrap it up however they want.”

After opening remarks, the panel took questions from the crowd written on index cards before opening the microphone for further comments at the end of the session. While the first few questions read dealt with other pending legislation or teachers’ issues, the majority addressed the right-to-work bill.

The legislation has been hotly debated in the General Assembly, with some House Democrats staging a boycott over the issue.

Several in the crowd asked why the issue could not be put to a referendum, allowing voters to decide the issue. “There is a constitutional question on whether we could have a statewide referendum,” Clere said.

Emotions ran high in the room as quiet mutterings grew into vocal outbursts from some in the crowd.

When Grooms said the legislation was all about creating jobs, one audience member shouted, “Move to China.”

“I’m not going to tell you that right to work will be the cure-all for the state of Indiana,” Clere said. “We need to do everything we can to make Indiana attractive for job creation.”

Of the 11 people who spoke at the meeting, all addressed right to work. Several suggested that the best way to deal with the issue was to elect different people the next time around.

Kincaid drew enthusiastic applause near the end as he told the panel, “Do what you’ve got to do. But remember in November we’ll be there.”

At one point, Clere spoke briefly about jobs that could be created if his House Bill 1111, the Historic Preservation Tax Credit, were passed. It would raise the cap on statewide credits for the preservation or rehabilitation of historic properties that have been vacant for at least a year.

But people on hand were focused on the right-to-work issue.

“This is par for the course,” Clere said. “This is what we encounter at the Statehouse every day.”

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Shea Van Hoy's missing commentary is right here.

It's a funny thing.

I read Shea Van Hoy's commentary this morning on my iPhone, but it doesn't seem to be there any longer after looking for it on the laptop. Of course, the URL might have changed for any number of good reasons, so I searched using the newspaper's  perennially woeful search engine, and there's nothing there, either.

(Here's the correct link; it went back up later in the day. Perhaps one day I'll be able to trust these people again. Right now, I don't): 


http://newsandtribune.com/opinion/x1296862975/VAN-HOY-There-s-a-lot-of-talk-out-there

And here's the text of the commentary, via iPhone. Just in case. Shea even mentions yours truly, because after all, I'm one of the columnists terminated.

Still awaiting that explanation, you know.

---

VAN HOY: There’s a lot of talk out there


SOUTHERN INDIANA — I wrote a column published in Wednesday’s paper noting that the News and Tribune plans to increase the number of editorials and columns from staff members in the coming year. I thought it was fairly straightforward, and still hope the public looks forward from hearing the voice of the newspaper more often.


What I didn’t expect was for the conversation on our website comments to immediately turn to a subject that has been discussed on this page before — our policy for columns from people running for elected office. Specifically, this relates to the former regular column from State Rep. Ed Clere, which was removed after Clere told me he was going to again seek office starting with the May primary, and also held a fundraiser for his campaign. As I have written previously in this space, I appreciate and respect the fact Clere told me this news in person.


What I can’t understand is the vitriol from some readers for the newspaper adhering to a policy that has been in place for years. It’s a policy that has been applied to other candidates who previously wrote regular columns — Roger Baylor and Kelley Curran, who both sought city council positions last year.


Let me restate the policy: If a regular columnist for the News and Tribune decides to run for office in the next election cycle — via filing, holding a fundraiser or simply saying he or she will run — they forfeit their regular space in the newspaper. Continuing publishing the column would be unfair to opponents of that candidate, whether they have declared or not.


I also want to answer claims via web comments on my column that people outside the newsroom had any influence on the removal of Clere’s column. That is untrue. It was a decision made by myself and Bill Hanson, our publisher. It was a very easy decision, actually, as we were simply following our established guidelines.


Our regular columnists make a commitment to write weekly or every other week, and that is much more difficult a task than many realize. If you don’t think so, ask Lindon Dodd, who has written for more than a decade, or even Baylor, who spent far less time as a columnist but told me once that after a while, column ideas can be hard to come by.


That dedication is appreciated by myself and our readers, but column space in the paper is not a right. It’s an agreement that either side can terminate at any time. My goal is to keep the Opinions page as free and open to public comment as possible, but fairness has to be considered when politics are involved.


The final concern from those making comments is a desire to keep up with doings at the Indiana Statehouse. That is important, I agree.


To that end, the News and Tribune has reporter Maureen Hayden at the Statehouse in Indianapolis every day reporting on what’s happening there. That’s not an easy task, either, but Maureen does a fantastic job. We also publish Statehouse stories from The Associated Press and other Indiana newspapers.


We hope you continue to read those reports and stay informed. As always, feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns


— Shea Van Hoy is editor of the News and Tribune. Reach him at shea.vanhoy@newsandtribune.com or by phone at 812-786-5593.

River View an example of why "urban redevelopment projects should put local businesses first."



In River View Version 2.0, the project's retail component now must be the first to succeed, before construction of any condominiums, which were the originally stated aim of the development. Retail build-out also must preface rental housing units, which were not in the previous plan. Of course, for any of these phases to begin, the city's required commitment, a TIF-enabled parking garage, must be completed.

Insofar as the anchor retail tenant is concerned, will realtor Mike Kopp be seeking local, or chain? Let's hope both Kopp and Mainland consider this link, because if their for-profit entity must utilize TIF money to even begin, doesn't the comminity have a very real stake in the type of retail being pursued?

Urban Redevelopment Projects Should Put Local Businesses First

Make Local Business the Anchor Tenant at Canal Side (Opinion), by Sarah Bishop of Buffalo First

We don't need $35 million in public money used to lure another big box store to Canal Side. However, we could always use a boost to our local economy, and great publicity for our local businesses and city. "Buffalo needs to start investing in itself. Putting anchor tenants at Canal Side that are Buffalo community members themselves helps the local economy," said Maria Fox, one of the nearly 100 signatories to date in support of local business as the "anchor" at Canal Side.

Dirty little minds.

Friday, January 20, 2012

NABC Bonfire of the Valkyries: Now out and about.


NABC’s signature Black Lager is on tap at both Bank Street Brewhouse and the Pizzeria & Public House for consumption in-house, or carry-out sales in growlers and bottles. The first 22-oz bomber shipments have gone out to wholesalers in Indiana and Kentucky. A very limited amount of draft will be made available to outside accounts.

Bonfire of the Valkyries is NABC's full-bodied and clean Black Lager with medium smokiness. It is the ideal accompaniment to all smoked meats, oysters on the half shell, cabbage soup, kielbasa and freshwater trout. Or, just have a few glasses while you’re burning away the hours until Ragnarok.

It won't last long, so get some.

Matt, Bob and Sammy: "There's only one way to rock."

Quite possibly, this is Matt's finest column ever. You should consider reading it in its entirety, and that's ... no joke.

NASH: Thanks for the idea, Bob, at the OSIN 'Bama Pop-Up Generator


... After a news report in the News and Tribune about a New Albany City Council meeting, and an exchange between a city council member and a member of the administration, I have found a new way to make my expectations clear.

Mainland Properties releases video detailing new River View development plan.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dazzled by the Kay Jewelers retail anchor at River View, council acts to enlarge the Bicentennial Commission.

Following the work session, the council convened its regular meeting.

By my count, amazingly there were seven 2011 election "losers" among tonight's peanut gallery attendees:  Bagshaw, Bledsoe, Burks, Rutherford, Stumler, Wilkinson and your humble correspondent.

Happily or otherwise, we're all staying involved. Just like King Larry, Erika's man of the year, who declined to show up tonight.

During city official speaking time, Greg Phipps of the 3rd asked whether there had been any follow up to ordinance G-11-30, which was passed in October, 2011, addressing CHAPTER 130: OFFENSES AGAINST MUNICIPAL REGULATIONS (it appears that 2011 updates to the on-line code have yet to be made). This initiative would seem to have originated with the Board of Works in May, 2011.

All I can tell you for sure is the ordinance addresses illegal signage (street spam), and apparently mentions the possibility of citizen appointees or council persons themselves doing the job of uprooting illegal signage. When asked, Kevin Zurschmiede admitted that no, nothing about the ordinance had been pursued any further, and he appealed to city attorney Stan Robison to follow up. Robison agreed to do so.

Street spam sharks everywhere, including me, began salivating. At long last, we get to start pulling down signs with a seal of approval. I simply can't wait.

The only other significant order of business tonight was this ordinance:

G-12-02 
Ordinance Amending the City of New Albany Ordinance G-09-06 Concerning the Bicentennial Commission Membership, Zurschmiede 1st & 2nd readings

The measure passed unanimously on its first two readings. Although no one knows exactly who serves on it now, the Bicentennial Commission (known colloquially as the Flying Crutchfield Circus) will be enlarged by up to four members if the 3rd reading is successful. Zurschmiede pointed out that after canvassing all and sundry, "There is a need to expand this body,” to get new warm bodies and help "energize" this group and "move it forward."

I was sure he intended to "reach out," but gratefully, it didn't come to that.

The current self-appointed arbiter of all things Bicentennially Ours, council person Bob "CeeSaw" Caesar, said that he was down with all of it, before adding that no matter who makes the selection, mayor or council, David Barksdale should be appointed to the commission.

Caesar inexplicably failed to add, "That's not a request," although I'm confident he was thinking it.  Maybe he needs to reach out more often.

(3) Council work session: River View alterations and photos.


To repeat: River View is now being presented as a three-phase project, with parking first, retail second, apartments third, and condos only at the very end.

Mike Kopp now takes the floor to sell the preceding. He merged Blue Sun with Remax so he could take advantage of the latter's commercial strength, precisely to tie into River View.

Kopp likes the new plans quite a lot. He sketches an optimistic scenario in which every projection being made succeeds, with no hitches and no glitches.

Jon Anderson from Indy explains how the three-step development process was necessary because of resistance from banks. PNC is interested, and Stockyards, BB & T, maybe Main Source and Your Community. Consistent message now is that the scale was too large to ensure financing. However, the city is being relied upon to be perfectly consistent in its TIF commitment.




Jack Bobo really thinks there WILL be interest when marketing packages and loan packages go out. The need a large retail tenant (read: chain), but they'll forge ahead even if they don't get such a commitment.

(2) Council work session: River View project now to come in three phases, parking first, condos last.

Resident parking now separated from general parking. All residential units current have balconies and a river view. Retail also somewhat separated from the residential component.

Also: Despite interest, some people couldn't imagine the financing being gotten, and given the position of banks, now there'll be a phased-in approach.

Businesses being moved to the Main Street quadrant, now the plan is for Retail Phase 1. Now they can begin with the retail , and only phase the residential in slowly over time ... which directly contradicts Mr. Bobo's assertion that the sole reason for the River View project is bringing residential to downtown. Includes all parking, which will be done FIRST.

Phase 2: Apartments, because the market is better for rentals.

Phase 3: Only then, in two or three years, the condo phase is launched. He emphasizes that this phased approach now helps all aspects of the plan, because it "builds on itself."

Which is to say: We can't get all the money at one time. This is a very big change over previous plans.

(to be continued)









(1) Council work session: River View project status report.

All the River View project principle players are here in the comfortable (well, half the room, anyway) confines for a status report.

Jack Bobo starts at point guard. He explains the history of the project and what happened last year.

"What have we been doing?"

In terms of money, he explains that banks are not going into lending again. Condo projects are not popular right now.

“What can we do to make this project more financially appealing to banks and investors?”

Answer: New design that could “really meet the needs” of the project. Yet to be explained what this means.

Mose Putney is out. New architectural firm is Studio A, or QK4, or both. New architect introduces himself, but in the absence of audio, little can be heard. Louisville firm, office in NA. Slick video presentation.

There now is an arch over the plaza area, which makes it look even more like the Ostrava-Poruba socialist realist project I mentioned yesterday. Stone and masonry on ground floors, different bricks on upper floors and stone accent. Rises to five and six stories from three or four toward the center (away from smaller existing buildings).

"Private space, also intended to be a public space." Buildings facing Main Street much less grandiose, scaled to surroundings.

(to be continued)




Greetings from 'Bama.


ON THE AVENUES: Afoot in NA with the 69% solution.

ON THE AVENUES: Afoot in NA with the 69% solution.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

All our sidewalks might be rebuilt, and even the occasional bike lane striped, but unless New Albany is prepared to classify systemic discrimination against the urban zone’s persecuted walkers and bicyclists as part and parcel of a fully funded enforcement mechanism, under the auspices of a human rights commission, things won’t get any better around here.

Okay, I’m exaggerating, though only slightly.

The older I get, the greater the imperative to redress the ridiculous societal imbalance between man and machine. We might as well commence the social engineering right here in the Open Air Museum, where minuscule comprehension levels guarantee a clean slate.

Of course, we’re all familiar with the array of venom spewed by motorists with respect to their fellow motorists, all of whom might be conveniently grouped into an omnibus category termed Innate Incompetence Compounded by Willful Distraction, or minus the obscenities: “Who taught you to drive, anyway?’

Probably no one, and also everyone.

But if you think it’s bad when both of you are in your armor-clad Hummers cursing, shaking fists and flashing middle fingers, then I recommend attempting a pleasurable stroll or casual bike ride. I’m confident you’ll soon echo my own sentiments, as freely borrowed from Lucy from the Peanuts comic strip and modified, hometown-style:

“I love cars. It’s drivers I hate.”

---

While unlikely, it is conceivable that a handful of local drivers well into their eighties might recall the admonition to look both ways before entering any intersection. However, fifty years of New Albany’s one-way downtown street grid has ensured that drivers generally look only in the direction of oncoming traffic, and seldom the other way, where a pedestrian just might be interested in crossing the street.

There’s also the quaint institution of those crosswalk guides painted on the street, with the obvious intent of connecting one sidewalk to the next, so as to assist pedestrians in navigating in a straight line. In theory, drivers are compelled to heed the stop sign short of these areas, without blocking pedestrian crossways.

I tested this theory yesterday while out walking, and on five separate occasions when I reached the corner at the same time as a car arrived at the stop sign (i.e., where the auto is supposed to stop), each time, without exception, the driver (a) did not look to see if anyone was there, and then (b) straddled the crosswalk line, easing as far out into the street as possible, presumably to save precious seconds in route to the dollar menu at Rally’s, where he or she could enter the drive-thru lane without moving a muscle (if any exist), before devouring the contents of the sack while in the very act of driving to the next fast food joint for dessert, then tossing all the wrappings onto the street, thus ensuring that my judgment of my fellow Americans remains fully enabled.\

Fat, dumb and fundamentalist is no way to go through life, and being an obnoxious, crappy driver makes it far, far worse.

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When I was a boy, Georgetown truly was the countryside. The amenities – store, café, barber shop, school – were there, roughly two miles away, and so naturally we always drove to get to them. By contrast, we generally walked down to the barn and back to feed the cows.

Not everyone in our extended rural neighborhood had an automobile. Roughly a half-mile away, in the direction of Lanesville, was a collection of shacks inhabited by a group of the less well off. They were kinfolk, and yet the word “family” doesn’t quite describe the arrangement. Among them were two or three brothers, their sister, a brother-in-law, and perhaps other women, coming and going at various times.

There were plenty of cars parked on their property, the main problem being that these jalopies tended not to work. It was closer to Georgetown than Lanesville, but in those days the former was bone dry Baptist and about as humorless, while the latter remained wonderfully Catholic, with a handful of taverns for liquid grocery shopping. When it came time, they’d head south on foot.

Wine duly obtained, they would start the homeward trudge, although famously, there were those times when they’d have to turn around and stumble back to Lanesville for more fuel, then try again, before ending the day asleep in one of the intervening cornfields.

If we had cars to drive, we drove everywhere, and yes, that’s the American way and all that, but it’s just that driving never was something I genuinely enjoyed doing. It was a job, not an adventure. As a typically ignorant and parochial American in the sticks, I could not begin to discern any conceivable alternative, at least until I was able to travel, and then finally, after a few years of living and roaming, I began to know myself better.

Given my father’s proclivities for nature and the outdoors, it was perhaps inevitable that I would develop an interest in urban life, and so I did. Traveling to Europe to experience the continent’s cities, revelations were quick in coming: One needn’t drive to the amenities when the amenities were nearby, when walking or bicycling would suffice, and where there were public transport options to provide a reliable and relatively inexpensive mobility solution.

During more than 30 trips to Europe over a period of a quarter century, I’ve rented a car exactly once. To be sure, my posterior has been placed in passenger cars quite a few times, and there have been taxis aplenty for shorter distances, and yet these account for a very small percentage of the total when it comes to how I’ve gotten around. After all this time, my preference remains walking, cycling, or whichever trains, trams or busses exist in a particular place.

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Back here in downtown New Albany, we’ve embarked upon a great and surely futile debate about parking spaces. I use the word “futile” because the unquestioned assumption currently being heard from virtually every participant in the discussion is that if typical American customers are forced to walk more than an urban block to reach a destination, they’ll leave in disgust and loathing, never to return.

Well, perhaps New Albany should post way-finding signs to help the clueless locate Veteran’s Parkway, to experience the orgasmic thrill of the cookie-cutter.

While there may be a grain of truth to it as pertains to those lost causes enamored of hopping in their gas guzzlers for a quick cruise to the foot of a driveway to claim their snail mail, it strikes me as yet another example of older folks utterly failing to understand a dawning age, and the beauty of this new way of thinking about mobility is that it’s both old and proven.

The city was built for walking, and even if we’ve spent decades deconstructing the grid, it’s never too late to start all over again. This country boy managed to learn better. You can, too.

Time for another ideological invocation.


The light 'n' easy council agenda this evening is outlined here.

Daniel Suddeath's preview: New Albany City Council to consider bicentennial commission appointments (at the Alabama Pop-Up Digest)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Exciting revised sketches reveal River View's new clothes.


Oops -- my bad. It's the book I recently finished, not the new drawings of River View.

However, at Tuesday morning's Merchant Mixer meeting, Mike Kopp showed them to attendees, with the comment that the previous architect never properly finished illustrating the exteriors, which led to some people (even politicians, those most reliable arbiters of taste) having a bad impression of the project.

Mike also showed us the floor plan of the 4,800-sq. ft., top-of-the-line condo, priced at $1.2 million. He reported that within days, fresh information and visuals will be released to the public, and that all systems are go for the developers to begin accepting letters of commitment and deposits.

Indiana-American Water, utility monopolies, street despoiling and why Robespierre was right.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

NAC is in complete agreement with any elected official, unelected official, ordinary citizen or random footloose Chia pet who wishes to eliminate any and all loopholes permitting those unsupervised rat bastards at Indiana-American Water to run roughshod over taste, decency and recently paved streets. That's because you really can trust IN-AWC -- trust the water monopoly to screw you every single time.

Previously at NAC: At home or at work, Indiana-American Water Company just doesn't give a damn. Hint: Few monopolies do.

Having repeated this, I'm just curious: Why is the city's point man for housing initiatives speaking at the Board of Works about the water issue?

New Albany OKs street cut for Scribner; Council still considering changes to utility excavation program, by Daniel Suddeath at the Alabama Pensioner Pop-Up Paper.


Carl Malysz, director of community housing initiatives for the city, said administration officials conferred with Indiana American Water last week about the proposed changes. Malysz asked the board to OK the Scribner Drive project — which is expected to impact traffic from Main Street to Spring Street — but hold off on approval for three other street cuts the utility has requested.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"The more downtown merchants and restaurateurs insist that customers need not walk past other storefronts, the less they benefit from each other’s customers."

Once again, kindly permit me to boost a comment to the marquee. Reader Dan Chandler posted the following in response to last evening's "What are 23 parking spaces worth?" I have only one observation: During the discussions of the past few days, we seem to see the emergence of differing theories of consumer behavior. Which are to be fluffed, and which to remain unfluffed?

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Go to any mall such as Oxmoor, St. Matthews or Green Tree. The stores with the highest foot traffic are those along the main corridor, furthest from the parking. Space by the mall entrances, closest to parking, attracts fewer shoppers. The whole point of a mall is that each store get cross traffic from other stores’ customers. Enclosed mall space commands higher rents than strip mall space because customers walk past stores they otherwise would not have considered visiting, but visit they do. If each mall store had its own parking spaces, there would be no cross traffic customers.


The same principle works downtown. The more downtown merchants and restaurateurs insist that customers need not walk past other storefronts, the less they benefit from each other’s customers. Most downtown businesses will benefit by thinking of themselves as part of a shopping and entertainment district instead of cluster of unrelated businesses whose customers never cross.


Cross traffic is highest when the walking experience is most enjoyable. Historically, the mall had an advantage; part of the walk was past attractive storefronts. Downtown, much of the walk was past weed filled lots and boarded up buildings. The more pleasant the walkway, the more cross traffic will walk there. Mall operators know the importance of continuous attractive storefronts. Most mall leases contain a “lights out” clause that basically terminates the lease if the tenant closes the store, even though they continue to pay rent. If it’s not a pleasing environment, all tenants are hurt by reduced cross traffic.


So no, easy parking and foot traffic are not inextricably linked. Downtown has seen a business boom in the last five years despite no new parking. I don’t think this is coincidence. If you want isolated stores, you can get that anywhere; if you want a district, downtown NA offers something not found anywhere else in metro Louisville. Customers don’t like walking past places that are dirty, unattractive, loud or dangerous. So merchants, instead of making each other’s customers walk past bare concrete lots to get to your storefront, make sure your neighbor’s customers have an enticing trail to your storefront. Attractive facades do this. Attractive landscaping does this. Safe sidewalks do this. And calm, slow, quiet, two-way streets do this. These make places customers enjoy on foot.