NA Mayoral candidates speak out on city needs

While qualifying for municipal elections only began three short weeks ago, the race for mayor of New Albany already has two candidates vying for the office – both of whom already have spoken out on their visions for the future of New Albany.

New Albany’s Mayor Tim Kent has announced he plans to run for re-election and has qualified with the New Albany Circuit Clerk, while New Albany citizen and community leader Betsey Hamilton has announced her plans to run for the office as well.

In speaking on what he would hope to see accomplished over the next four years, should he be re-elected, Kent mentioned two big projects in particular – the construction of a loop around the city of New Albany, as well as improvement to infrastructure in the downtown area.

“We’ve sent a list of things as part of the federal economic stimulus wish list,” Kent said Wednesday.  “These are projects that have to be shovel-ready, which means they could go out for bids within 60 to 90 days.  We’ve added the interloop, as well as infrastructure improvements for downtown to our wishlist.”

Kent said that plans for the interloop would be to extend Munsford Dr. further east to HWY 178 and west to HWY 15. 

“Of course, like every other city, we’re on a tight budget,” Kent said.  “So we’ve been working on writing grants to try and help get funding for these projects.”

He went on to say that an interloop would help alleviate traffic problems in New Albany help decrease the number of 18-wheelers traveling through the downtown area.

“According to traffic count numbers, there are about 11,000 cars going through the downtown on a daily basis, including many 18-wheelers,” Kent said.  “Unfortunately, this has also caused several traffic accidents, especially at the intersection of Glenfield and HWY 178.

With regard to the downtown infrastructure, Kent said that the goal would be to repair or replace many of the water lines that are over 100 years old.

Kent also said that the city is currently negotiating for six acres of land to construct a new public utilities and police station.

“The [police station] was built somewhere in the mid-’30’s,” Kent said.  “There’s just not a lot you can do with it.  But again, it will depend on our budget.”

In response, Hamilton said that the city first needs a comprehensive plan and input from the citizens before starting such projects.

“Before we do any building, we need to have a comprehensive plan for this community,” said Hamilton, who was involved in a community effort to develop a comprehensive plan in 1997.  “The loop that the mayor is talking about actually comes out of the 1997 plan that was never actually adopted.  We need a working document that shows where we want to go and what we want to accomplish.”

Hamilton also said one of New Albany’s biggest needs is to examine traffic flow.

“One of the most critical needs is our traffic flow,” Hamilton said.  “We ought to look at our traffic flow.  We did in 1997.  We need to be aware what roads should be our priorities in widening especially.

“We’re going to grow in the next 10 years much faster than the last.  It’s bigger than just a handful of people.  It’s the public input that’s missing right now.  They’re not involving the communty in the visioning process.”