By Lynn West/New Albany News-Exchange
NEW ALBANY – An idea for the city to purchase a trailer park that’s alleged to be a pocket of crime could be dead.
New Albany aldermen on Tuesday took no action to purchase Eastwood Properties mobile home park. The decision came after nearly an hour of heated discussion among residents gathered at the civic center, arguing both sides of the possible purchase.
Residents in the Murrah Road area had pushed for the purchase in hopes of closing down the trailer park, seeing it as a source of crime and other problems. Their unease increased greatly after the shooting death of Amanda Price and wounding of her husband, New Albany football coach Ron Price, at their Murrah Road home in late 2011.
The man charged in the Price shooting was visiting residents at the trailer park near the edge of the neighborhood, and other local residents had cited various crimes, break-in attempts and nuisance problems they attributed to trailer park residents.
As the only zoned trailer park in New Albany, it is likely exempt from most new city ordinances. Its owners can add some trailers and replace any existing ones as needed, and city officials say the owners are maintaining the park within the few codes that exist.
The only alternative Murrah Road residents saw was for the city to buy the property and use it to build a new light, gas and water administration building and gas department warehouse – both needed and a suggestion they said the city made first.
Two formal sale options were presented: one to purchase the entire property for $575,000 and a second to buy the mobile home park only (and not the motel) for $425,000, allowing tenants time to have the owners find new residences for them.
Ward 4 Alderman Will Tucker, in whose ward the park is situated, moved for the city to have an appraisal done and commit to paying $255,000 for the park area in a year, but the motion died for lack of a second.
City attorney Regan Russell had brought out that the city could not legally buy the property any time without an appraisal first, could not vote without a firm offer and could not vote on a deal that would obligate future boards of aldermen. That meant the only real legal action the board could have taken Tuesday was to vote for an appraisal.
One of the owners, Junior Stout, said he would be willing to sell the property for what it would take to satisfy the bank for what is owed, but that appeared to be a higher figure than aldermen would consider.