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New Albany council addresses business owners' concerns as construction continues

It would provide no less than $500,000 in ARP funds to businesses affected by the construction. Most council members voted to revisit the resolution next year.

NEW ALBANY, Ind. — A resolution that would provide financial assistance to business owners negatively affected by construction in downtown New Albany did not pass city council.

Thursday night, the proposal was brought forth to council members. It would provide no less than $500,000 in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to businesses affected by the construction. Most council members voted to revisit the resolution in committee next year.

The construction is part of the city's $5.5 million Main Street Revitalization Project. The official construction timeline began in September, though business owners say they started seeing construction in early Spring.

The project includes rebuilding the roadway, widening sidewalks, new lighting, new traffic signals, landscaping and an updated water drainage system.

During the meeting, a few business owners spoke about hardships they’ve experienced in the last few months.

One shop owner said two of his employees put in their two weeks' notice because they weren't getting the tips they needed to live.

John Applegate, council member at large, said as a business owner himself he sympathizes but said it needs to be vetted more thoroughly.

“When I hear all these things, it personally gets to me,” he said. "And then I know from a government side, it sounds good just to be able to just say, ‘here’s money.’ Well, you can’t always do that, especially as the way the resolution was written.”

Councilmember Josh Turner was the only 'no’ vote.

“All things die in committee. Tonight, was the night to fix it,” he said. “I was committed to staying all night to resolve it, find some solution for them. For me to sit back and watch the government hurt private businesses is something I just cannot stand for.”    

Todd Coleman, owner of Classic Furniture, said he’s been in business 26 years. Now, he said he’s lost half a million dollars since he started seeing construction in May. So, three weeks ago he opened another store in Jeffersonville to try and make up the income.

“The council needs to get together and really work hard for the businesses in downtown,” he said. "If they don’t, in another six months some of these businesses won’t be here for sure.”

Coleman said construction to revitalize downtown is no good if no businesses aren’t there to welcome the community.

City officials say the project won't be done before August 2023.

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