New Albany residents soon will get more space to enjoy the great outdoors -- 25 acres, to be exact.

A new park is planned as part of Nottingham Trace, a Pulte Homes development on land purchased from the New Albany Co.

The development would include 240 single-family homes and 5 acres of service-related commercial uses. The houses would be age-restricted by deed to owners who are 55 and older.

Tom Rubey, director of development for the New Albany Co., said in April the company plans to sell property west of New Albany-Condit Road (state Route 605) and south of Walnut Street to Pulte Homes later this year. The land is off Schleppi Road and near the new Rocky Fork Metro Park in northern Plain Township.

The park would be north of Aetna's facilities at 7400 W. Campus Road and west of Route 605 and Schleppi.

The timeline for the park to be built is undetermined at this point, said Adrienne Joly, New Albany's director of administrative services. City officials need to determine with Pulte the layout and amenities to be included in the park, she said.

When Pulte included a park in its plans for Nottingham Trace, city leaders saw potential for the area because of its proximity to Rocky Fork Metro Park, Joly said.

"We think this will be part of a great regional park network that includes New Albany, Columbus and the Rocky Fork Metro Park," she said.

Although Pulte is building the park, it ultimately would be owned by the city, said city spokesman Scott McAfee.

However, it wouldn't be part of the New Albany Parks and Recreation system, which includes Bevelhymer, Thompson and Swickward Woods parks, Joly said.

It would be more akin to the city's pocket parks and green space in other housing developments, with walking trails and overlooks into natural areas, she said.

The 25-acre park would be much larger than any of the other pocket parks, McAfee said.

Funding for the new park would come from a "nonschool" tax-increment-financing district for Nottingham Trace that is projected to generate $12.4 million over 30 years.

About the TIF

New Albany Council on Aug. 15 approved an ordinance authorizing the TIF agreement with the New Albany Co. City Council would need to approve a second ordinance, scheduled for readings Sept. 5 and 19, for the TIF district to be finalized, said Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany's community-development director.

"The immediate benefit was to help fund the infrastructure upgrades (that) were above and beyond the city's requirements for the development of residential property," the minutes from the Aug. 15 meeting said. "These included additional green spaces, development of that green space, which would benefit neighboring communities, drainage management for the area, extension of sanitary and water lines, trail connections, bike lanes, a redundant road connection and improvements to the state Route 605 corridor.

The city was proposing to use TIF funds to offset the cost of road improvements that would also benefit Canine Companions and the general, north-south flow of traffic. The TIFs would apply to about 240 residential units and 5 acres of commercial development ground. The school districts and fire department would receive the revenue that they would ordinarily receive from those properties.

"The total estimated revenue over a 30-year period was around $12.4 million. The city believed that, after the improvements, there would be enough revenue left to further enhance the Metro Park, enhance leisure-trail connections along the Hamilton Road corridor and possibly upgrade the intersection at Walnut and state Route 605. Other projects in the Village Center could be funded, including Rose Run corridor improvement, should council approve them."

According to the minutes, City Manager Joe Stefanov said the" expense to be reimbursed to the developer would be just under $2.4 million out of the $12.4 million in estimated revenue" and the "TIF was not a direct subsidy to residential development."

When asked by ThisWeek if the TIF was an incentive for the development, McAfee responded that "it isn't a subsidy."

"The TIF will be utilized for projects that are over and above the scope of improvements that need to be made as part of the neighborhood subdivision," he said in an email. "The park improvements ..., proximity to Rocky Fork Metro Park and proximity to the business park are expected to make this park area an attraction to a larger population than just the neighborhood. Additionally, some of the infrastructure improvements being made will facilitate additional commercial development, also not related to the neighborhood subdivision project."

A TIF is an economic-development mechanism available to local governments to finance public-infrastructure improvements and, in certain circumstances, residential rehabilitation, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.

A TIF locks in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting resulting incremental revenue to designated uses, such as funding necessary improvements or infrastructure to support a new development.

Revenue that exceeds the locked-in valuation of the land is diverted from the entities that typically receive property-tax revenue, including school districts, parks districts, libraries and fire departments.

In the case of a nonschool TIF, the additional property tax revenue is diverted from all entities except school districts, Chrysler said. Recent state legislation added vocational schools to that exception, she said.

For this TIF, the schools would be the New Albany-Plain Local School District and Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical Schools, according to a council legislative report.

Chrysler said the TIF would be structured so it did not divert money from the Plain Township Fire Department.

The TIF would cover 64 developed acres, Chrysler said. Future improvements within the district are estimated at $90 million for the residential portion and $2.75 million for the commercial area, she said.