New Albany in 2021: City officials say they are optimistic about new year
Calling himself optimistic about 2021, New Albany City Manager Joseph Stefanov said he will begin the new year in much the same way he did when it became clear the COVID-19 coronavirus would create a pandemic.
“Our approach from the beginning of this was to take it day by day and make adjustments as needed,” Stefanov said.
Part of his attitude is because of good financial planning by the city, he said. If estimates are correct, the city will finish $2.2 million in the black at the end of 2021.
“We’re anticipating that there are going to be financial implications of COVID that will stretch into 2021 and beyond,” he said. “The good thing is we’ve been setting aside funds for four or five years to weather downturns and situations like this.”
Highlights of 2021 should include construction on improvements to U.S. Route 62 and state Route 161, Stefanov said. The $6 million project includes redesigned highway interchange ramps, new medians and turn lanes, the addition of sidewalks and leisure trails along Route 62 and a traffic signal at the intersection near Marburn Academy and the Plain Township Fire Department.
Also, the city is expected to purchase more than 100 acres west of Harlem Road and north of Dublin-Granville Road for $2.25 million, Stefanov said.
The land improvements will initially include construction of parking lots, leisure trails and landscaping around designated wetland areas, he said.
In addition, the opening of the local Miracle League of New Albany field and the Charleen & Charles Hinson Amphitheater, a New Albany Community Foundation project, should be completed this year.
Stefanov said several community events were canceled in 2020, and he would like to see them rescheduled for this year, providing they can be done safely.
They included the Rose Run Park dedication in May, along with the Founders Day parade and festival and the first Rose Run 5K, he said. The New Albany Walking Classic, Oktoberfest and the A&F Challenge were among other canceled events.
“We hope all these events can begin to be celebrated again in person,” Stefanov said.
New Albany City Council member Colleen Briscoe said she is upbeat about the prospect of the COVID-19 vaccine that started to be distributed locally and nationally the week of Dec. 14.
“I think 2021 will be a recovery year,” Briscoe said. “I don’t know we’ll get totally back to normal. Hopefully, with the vaccine, things we’ll get as close to normal as possible.
“I would just like to see the people of New Albany out and about, safely enjoying the city and each other’s company.