By BRADEN LAMMERS
Jeffersonville’s Redevelopment Commission reviewed and approved updated plans for Big Four Station at its meeting Monday night.
The Estopinal Group offered a first peek at its plan to create a two-block park surrounding the foot of the Big Four pedestrian and bicycle bridge in July. Since the public saw the plans then, comments have been received offering the positives and negatives of the proposal.
“Of the 200 comments we received ... the reaction to even the early concepts were overwhelmingly positive,” said Wayne Estopinal, president of the Estopinal Group, as he presented the revised plans.
One of the more outspoken groups that weighed in on the design plans was the Rose Hill Neighborhood Association, as the bridge’s ramp will land the former railroad bridge being converted into a pedestrian path in that neighborhood. Many of the members critiqued the modern design of Big Four Station, saying it conflicted with the feel of the historic neighborhood in downtown Jeffersonville.
Some of those changes the neighborhood association presented were folded into the updated design.
“We did receive comments from the Rose Hill Neighborhood Association ... regarding some of their concerns about lighting,” Estopinal said. “We have modified some of the lighting in a couple of locations.”
Around perimeter of the park, the plans have switched to adopt the standard historic street lighting found throughout Jeffersonville.
However, many of the modern elements remained in the plan.
“If we had come in and done Victorian themes and shapes it would have been somewhat like creating a Victorian period at Disney,” Estopinal said.
He offered that once completed, the park will look like it was constructed in the early 2000s, but will retain a timeless look. He added that the contemporary spiral ramp on Louisville side of the Ohio River dictated some of the design on Jeffersonville side and designers did not want to adopt two conflicting styles. While the look in Jeffersonville will fit the theme of the Louisville structure, not all of the design elements will be adopted. One thing that will not be the same is the lighting on each ramp.
Estopinal said the south-end lighting on the Kentucky side of the river can be modified to change color, but in part because there are residences directly across the street in Jeffersonville ramp, the Estopinal Group didn’t want color-changing lights on the Jeffersonville ramp.
“I think to have this red and blue glow, and changing all night, we didn’t particularly care for that,” he said.
The lights — while mirroring the look of the lights on the Louisville side — will be a basic tower that directs light onto the ramp and is cheaper than Louisville’s lights.
Other changes incorporated into the updated design included modifications to the multipurpose pavilion, where some of the walls were removed to create a more open space. Three lights towers also lead to the obelisk that has itself been modified into a light tower, with a glass-shard look, and it retains crossing elements that are reminiscent of former bridge trellises. Blue glass also raises about halfway up the tower, stopping at the cresting point of the 1937 flood, with white glass above the high water mark.
Leading to the large circular landing at the end of the ramp, with the obelisk set in the center, is a tiered fountain that mimics the Falls of the Ohio that then flows under a metal grate to a pool around the tower.
Features such as the planned playground and bathroom facility in the middle of the park remained the same.
“I think we’re in a better place than the first time we presented it to you,” Estopinal said.
The next step, and what was requested Monday, was for the Estopinal Group to complete plans for construction documents and construction administration documents. The full estimate for plans through construction is expected to total $363,000.
Despite some opposition to the design offered Monday, Mayor Mike Moore said he wanted to move forward.
“I think we’re at the point that I’d like to put this product out and say this is Big Four Station,” he said.
“I’m really of the opinion that you’ll never please everybody,” Estopinal added. “Given all the parties that have seen it, there seems to be a decent consensus.
He added the plans will still need to go through extensive review process at the state level.
The ramp is still anticipated to be completed in April and the goal for the Estopinal Group is to have the project detailed and bid at its completion date. It is estimated that it will take 14 month to complete Big Four Station.
The redevelopment commission unanimously agreed to move forward with the updated plan.
The redevelopment commission also entertained a request to purchase property adjacent to Duffy’s Landing to extend the parking lot, add a handicap-accessible bathroom and create a greenspace along the Ohio River.
“I think the concept is to expand Duffy’s Landing for more of a park setting [and] also to provide more access to the river,” said City Attorney Les Merkley. “If the city doesn’t acquire it, someone else could potentially acquire it.”
He added that the property owner may put the property on the open market if the city does not wish to purchase it.
Moore requested two appraisals on the property in question, the average of which totaled $475,000. However, the property owner told the city he was willing to sell the land for $300,000.
Moore added that the landing will take on added significance with plans the city intends to implement that would renovate the waterfront and docks along Riverside Drive, but would also remove the boat launch near Spring Street.
“Duffy’s Landing will be the only place in Jeffersonville to launch a boat,” he said.
While the landing is not inside a Tax Increment Finance district, it is in between Jeffersonville’s Inner City Road and Falls Landing TIFs. Merkley said because it is adjacent to both TIFs, and would have an impact on the districts, money could be dedicated out of the funds to purchase the property.
The redevelopment commission approved buying the property 4-0 — with Commission Member Jack Vissing abstaining because the landowner is a relative — contingent on money out of the Inner City Roads TIF be reimbursed by half when the bonds close on the River Falls TIF, which is expected to generate more than $10 million.
The redevelopment commission refused to pay additional inspection costs for the project to widen Hamburg Pike if Gohmann Asphalt and Construction Inc. goes beyond the project deadline. At the commission’s September meeting, Gohmann Asphalt made a request for the city to pay additional inspection costs for the project.
The plan to widen the road from about 22 feet to about 38 feet between Dutch Lane and Charlestown-New Albany Pike started in December 2010 with a planned completion date slated of Nov. 9, 2012.
But at September’s redevelopment commission meeting, Gohmann officials said the project had been delayed, largely due to complications in relocating utilities on the road. They asked for an extension of time, pushing the project’s estimated completion date to July 2, 2013, and the additional inspection costs that would result.
The redevelopment commission voted not to allow for any additional inspection costs to be paid and for Gohmann Asphalt to pay all penalties associated with the delay in the project. The penalty-per-day of $2,000 is set to be imposed if they go beyond the Nov. 9 completion date.