“The wheels of justice turn slowly…”
An oft-quoted line and one that usually applies to the way business is done in city board meetings here and everywhere. Hundreds of state and federal statutes and court decisions must be observed. Board attorneys are consulted often and legal opinions are sometimes delivered at a future meeting. Public hearings on new ordinances are held. Some proposed ordinances must be read at more than one monthly meeting. Ordinances get tabled so more information can be obtained.
The wheels indeed turn slowly and, of necessity, it’s often a case of “kick the can down the road.” A notable exception occurred at the Tuesday, April 7, meeting of the New Albany Board of Aldermen.
Charles Ferrell, representing a group of about 20 home owners in the Bratton Road/Martintown Road neighborhood, stood before the board and, in relatively few words, stated a problem and offered a solution. The problem: extremely high speed motor vehicle traffic through the busy neighborhood and intersection where Bratton dead ends at Martintown. Both roads are narrow two lane blacktops. A stop-sign makes motorists on Bratton stop before entering Martintown. No stop signs on Martintown, however. A long straightaway is there, and the Martintown traffic often exceeds 80 mph.
Ferrell’s suggested solution: make that intersection a three way stop. The mayor and board members looked at one another and, saying little or nothing, recognized the irrefutable logic of what Farrell said. Police Chief Chris Robertson was in the room and was asked if he saw any problem. The chief quickly said it made sense to him. Do it. An alderman made a motion, it was quickly seconded and a unanimous vote decreed that there shall be a three way stop with flashing light at that busy intersection.
The entire matter including Ferrell’s statement and the vote was dealt with in less than ten minutes. It can’t happen that way very often, but it was refreshing to observe it once.
In fact the Bratton/Martintown delegation was on the agenda about an entirely different matter, one that has apparently stretched over several years. These folks are in the city limits. They pay city taxes. They have no street lights, and it’s dark out there. The situation is complicated by the fact that electrical service in that part of the city is not delivered by the city-owned New Albany Light, Gas and Water (NALGW). Electricity in that area is actually distributed by an Oxford utility service. NALGW General Manager Bill Mattox has been working with the Oxford utility, which is designing a system to provide street lights there.
Charles Ferrell asked Mattox how long he thought it would be before they had street lights out there. Mattox said he thought the design work was near completion. “My impression is we should have street lights before the winter season,” he said.
In another matter the board revisited business initiated several months ago when a house on Hobson Street was condemned. The current owner of the house offered a proposal to do about $35,000 worth of work on the structure including replacement of the electrical service and extensive upgrading of the plumbing. There was some discussion by the board about whether to approve the proposal to bring the house up to city code standards. Alderman-at-Large Scott Dunnam, who is himself a builder, supported the plan for extensive repairs to the house. “I know the house can be saved because I’ve saved worse,” said Dunnam. The board voted to give the owner of the Hobson Street house two months to present detailed plans for upgrading the structure, with the proviso that no work actually be done on the house without the approval of the city building inspector.
Last week it was announced that the state legislature and Public Service Commission had given the city utility system the authority to sell natural gas in additional rural areas of Union and Marshall counties. NALGW General Manager Bill Mattox said actually providing service to the rural areas, “Will not be a one year thing. It will have to be done in phases.” The board authorized NALGW to apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to finance some of the needed work.
City Marketing and Tourism Director Sean Johnson told the board that city tourism tax collections in February had been $53,000, a 23% increase over February 2014. Johnson said application has been made for Recreational Trails grant to expand the city’s cycling trails. Johnson also told the aldermen that work is being done to determine how to maximize the benefit of a state grant of $175,000 for improvements to recreational facilities
UCDA Director Phil Nanney said projects are pending in all three of the city’s industrial parks that could result in additional jobs for local people.
Police Chief Chris Robertson requested and received authority to purchase additional motor vehicles and to make improvements in the police department’s communication equipment.
Mayor Tim Kent told the board that work will start soon on two projects on Oxford Road that runs behind Baptist Memorial Hospital Union County. Construction of the hospital’s new emergency room on the east side of the hospital campus now means that ambulances approach the ER on Oxford Road. The first project is work on the intersection of Coulter and Oxford roads, which is now a narrow road with a hard 90 degree turn. The improved intersection will be broadened and will have a curve rather that a sharp turn. The new radius will make it easier for ambulances to make the turn in the face of oncoming traffic.
The second project on that street is to replace the bridge near the intersection of Oxford Road and Fairfield Drive.