Sunday, January 31, 2016

RQAW's letter to property owners: The "street improvements" project that dare not speak its name.

Usable text below.


Read Speck now: Are these Spring Street improvements really improvements for people, as opposed to their cars?

Following is the text of the letter received by property owners on Market, Spring and Elm Streets. It isn't clear whether property owners on any other downtown streets (Bank, Pearl, W. 7th, Scribner Drive) received these letters.

In the absence of clarity, we can only guess. For those who find my use of the term "Orwellian" to be exaggerated in regard to such matters, simply ask yourself this question:

Do you know what is meant by the phrase "New Albany Downtown Street Improvements," or by the word "project"?

If not, are you aware of a web site or previous information release where these terms are defined?

If your answer to these questions is "no," then what actually can be known?

It's true that many of us surmise that the "street improvements" in question have something to do with two-way streets, traffic calming or complete streets. They may even address Jeff Speck's Downtown Street Network Proposals. It might even be the case that Speck's proposals are being implemented in their entirety.

However, judging solely from the information released to date to the public by City Hall, do we really know for sure?

It is no exaggeration to suggest that if you were to approach Board of Works chairman Warren Nash today and ask him what all this means, he would pat you patronizingly on the back and tell you that it's being taken care of, and any questions can be asked by attending a Board of Works meeting, each Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. -- no e-mail, no web site, just a once weekly meeting.

Were you to request the location of an information source available to the public, either at the City-County Building or on-line, neither Nash nor anyone else affiliated with City Hall would be able to direct you to it, because it does not exist.

If you're a reliable political ally, one of them might whisper into your ear and swear you to secrecy, but that's probably as far as it would go, and you might be asked for a campaign donation as tangible evidence of your loyalty.

In short, what they say is this: "Just trust us."

Unfortunately, the last time Team Gahan undertook a bold act of "street improvement" downtown, the result was the catastrophic and wastefully expensive Main Street Median Project, the existence of which subsequently has discredited the local leadership caste so completely that it cannot be trusted to change the toilet paper roll, much less institute changes that actually change something.

I'm not bereft of hope. I genuinely want to believe the down-low murmurings, tea leaf readings and code-language reassurances. I'd like to think that the stopped clock really is right twice a day, and that Team Gahan will defy the suburban-centric odds and produce a fundamentally revolutionized street grid capable of transforming downtown, not merely functioning as a cosmetic Band-Aid worthy of Uncle Walt Disney.

But there must be a plausible reason to believe, and until one arises, I'll continue to sweat the details, because they're where the devil resides.

Note: There is a city council meeting on 7:00 p.m. on Monday, February 1, in addition to the weekly BOW gathering on Tuesday morning at ten. Both meetings come complete with public speaking time. Do you have questions? If so, come and quiz your elected and appointed officials. It may be your only chance, yea or nay.

Until then, here is some down home "What you talkin' 'bout Willis?" for your Sunday afternoon.


January 26, 2016

Notice of Entry for Survey or Investigation

RE: New Albany Downtown Street Improvements
Floyd County, Indiana
DES 0901275

RQAW has been hired as a sub-consultant to HWC Engineering who is hired by the City of New Albany for designing the above referenced project. Our information indicates that you own property near the above proposed transportation project. RQAW will be performing a survey of environmental resources within the project area in the near future. It may be necessary for representatives from RQAW to enter your property to complete this work. This is permitted by law per Indiana Code (IC) 8-23-7-26. Anyone performing this type of work has been instructed to identify him or herself, if you are available, before they enter your property. If you no longer own this property or it is currently occupied by someone else, please let us know the name of the new owner or occupant so that we can contact them about the survey. 

At this stage, we generally do not know what effect, if any, the project may eventually have on your property. If we later determine that your property is involved, you will be contacted with additional information. 

The survey work may include the identification and mapping of wetlands and historic resources, archaeological investigations (which may involve the survey, testing, or excavation of identified archaeological sites) and various other environmental studies. The information we obtain from such studies is necessary for the proper planning and design of the transportation project. It is our sincere desire to cause as little inconvenience as possible during the survey. 

If problems do occur, please contact Joe Dabkowski from RQAW at (317) 815-7232 or at 10401 N. Meridian St., Suite 401, Indianapolis, Indiana 46290. Thank you in advance for your cooperation. 


RQAW Corporation
Joseph Dabkowski, PWS
Environmental Department


TSOLfan said...

I don't pretend to understand all of the requirements of the project in order to receive the federal grant money, but my first thought was when I received the letter was, is contracting an Indianapolis engineering and architectural firm a requirement for the federal funds?

RQAW is an Indianapolis firm, and subcontracting for HWC, also an Indianapolis firm.

Was there not a New Albany and/or Southern Indiana firm capable of handling the work in order to provide the most benefit to the local economy?

TSOLfan said...

Looks like HWC does have a New Albany regional office, which wasn't mentioned on their website (probably because it has yet to open):

Randy Smith said...

Yes. MRS. Duggins works for the firm. It does look like your Spring Street property will have on-street parking, though.

Randy Smith said...

Yes. MRS. Duggins works for the firm. It does look like your Spring Street property will have on-street parking, though.