Wednesday, November 11, 2015

London's pea soup fog now envelops the Midtown NSP.

An NSP victim.

A reader asks:

What's the current status of the SEJ grant money that was supposed to be paid back from renovated home sales, accrue interest and be used to continue the renovation of the "Midtown" neighborhood?

Is New Directions Housing Corp still handling / holding the money?

How many of those renovated (many to the tune of OVER $200,000 EACH in renovation costs) homes have been sold, and where are the promised future benefits from the project? I seem to remember the promise of a never ending stream of revenue.

Do you mean the houses dubbed Painted Ladies? It might lead to an Elton John song.

Coincidentally, the Courier-Journal's Lexy Gross recently asked me a variant of this same question. Apparently she's doing a story about the Midtown NSP, which I'll link when it appears.

I gave her my best answer, then decided to "check" my work by asking the same question of Jeff Gillenwater. As usual, he's far more succinct than me.

However, first go to the Midtown NSP website to see the various "official" claims being made as to the impact of the expenditures, which as recently as 2013 were viewed as sufficiently suspect that none other than Dan Coffey was asking for an audit.

In retrospect, this must have been when the demolition kickbacks began.

Anyway, the NSP's impact purportedly includes 29 rehabbed homes, the Cardinal Ritter House renovation and the 1321 Inspiration Community Garden.

That's a good question. I think that it being a good question is part of the answer. To my knowledge, people are saying very little because so little has been shared about the project.

Beyond the garden (which I didn't know was an NSP thing), there's been little to no community engagement. How can we have spent nearly $7 million in one neighborhood with neighbors so unaware of what's happening and having no idea where it's heading?

David Duggins scoffed at NSP early on, saying that he could transform New Albany with that much money. When I reminded him they'd already spent more than that on other things, he shut up.

Beyond that, it's another story of spending millions of public dollars on individual properties while not addressing the fundamental infrastructure issues that surround them. Then there are issues like the tavern. The top secret site plan is the only time I recall hearing anything about NSP in the past four years.

The over-arching point is that we've just concluded an election cycle in which the incumbent was able to flash photos of a few new houses in Midtown as evidence of unprecedented success. Local media gave it a pass. My campaign tried to reference the project, bu of course our reach was limited.

Where's the beef?

Can a member of the public access unbiased information to so much as start making sense of the claims?

We were saying it more than two years ago: Transparency? That's a fine idea. Found any yet?

1 comment:

Ann Baumgartle said...

Not long ago I ran across notes I had taken at a presentation about the NSP project when it was just beginning. I counted the houses that I know are NSP houses and the number matches the original plans. However, I would like to know details about how the money was spent.

It has also been a big disappointment to me that nothing has been done to leverage this project. The impact could have been so much grester.