The incumbents and challengers for the New Albany Village Council agree that the future of economic development is one of the biggest issues in the village.

The incumbents and challengers for the New Albany Village Council agree that the future of economic development is one of the biggest issues in the village.

Two of the three incumbents -- Colleen Briscoe and Edward (Chip) Fellows -- and challengers Shirli Billings, Richard Justman and Sloan Spalding told ThisWeek about what they plan to address if they are elected or re-elected to council.

Incumbent Glyde Marsh was not able to attend the video interview, citing a professional conflict.

Billings said she moved to New Albany 10 years ago because of the success the New Albany officials had then with developing and planning the community. If elected, she said, she intends to continue that success by balancing the residential and commercial growth and further developing the historic village center. She said she would achieve those goals by working closely with the current development staff.

"I'd like to see there be a proper connection between what I would call the older historic village center (and) the newer Market Street," Billings said. "All of these things are in the vision that I have as I think balance."

Briscoe, who was mayor from 1996 to 2004, said one of her biggest goals is to develop the village center.

She said the current council, of which she is a member, recently passed a resolution to allow the development department to create a community reinvestment area (CRA) in the village center to attract new businesses. She said she also intends to see more adult living options within that area.

"We have gotten grants to redo sidewalks and redo the aesthetics, but we haven't really been able to find the way to attract retail development so it's a more vibrant village center," Briscoe said. "Hopefully, we have some new ideas about how to do that."

Fellows, who was appointed to council in 2006, said the current council's work has helped to add more than 3,000 new jobs in the village. If retained, he said, he wants to continue this by increasing the number of commercial and retail businesses in the village center.

"We have been focused during the last four to eight years on the development of the business park, and now we are turning our focus to provide the same types of incentives to both commercial and retail businesses to come to the village center," Fellows said.

He said council and the village staff have to work together to find more incentives to offer to businesses looking at that area.

Justman said New Albany has grown successfully over the 12 years of his village residency. He said he wants to see the village continue to develop the way it has but doesn't want development deals to occur behind closed doors.

Voters will be asked Nov. 3 to approve a charter amendment that would allow council to go into executive session for the purpose of "economic development."

"The council right now has endorsed allowing secret meetings with developers," he said. "I'm very much opposed to that. I am the 'open-meetings man,' if I can use that term. I only believe that meetings where the taxpayer money is being spent or used in any shape or form should be open to the public at all times."

Spalding said the village council historically has made a commitment to planning for residential and commercial growth. He said he wants to continue that successful growth by working with the development department to attract commercial businesses.

"It's a very competitive market out there, and a lot of other communities are doing everything they can to attract businesses away from their existing homes," Spalding said. "One of the ways I would accomplish that is by making sure there is a local tie to our community. Maybe the CEO of that company lives in our community. That is an anchor that we can latch on to when those times come up where maybe those tax incentives have lapsed."

To hear more responses from the candidates, including on development, the transition from a village to a city and New Albany's relationship with other local governmental entities, visit www.thisweeknews.com/newalbany to watch recorded interviews.

gmartineau@thisweeknews.com

Edward Fellows

Shirli Billings

Glyde Marsh

Sloan Spalding

Richard Justman