At yesterday's Redevelopment Commission meeting I floated a lead trial balloon of turning the woebegone property of Linden Meadows into a water park. You may recall that years ago Linden Meadows, which is situated hard by I-64 and near Fairview Cemetery in the Valley View Court area, was on its way to becoming a major project of the New Albany Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO). The aim was to relocate good housing stock displaced by Floyd Memorial 's expansion to a nearby site, thus keeping affordable housing available for New Albany home buyers. The project foundered for numerous reasons and was recently erased from the intended relocation area as the houses in advanced stages of deterioration were bulldozed and the lots cleared.
Prior to that sad chapter the land had been a park featuring several baseball diamonds, Howard McLean Park. I live quite close to Linden Meadows and lived equally close when it was still a park. We used to take our dogs there to run. For a long time I remember seeing the park from the Interstate but never being able to figure out exactly where it was. (You may not want to go deep into the woods with me and rely on my orienteering skills to get back out.) For the superannuated readers, Howard McLean Park-remember this was in the days before Google Earth-seemed to me like the purse in Fontaine Ferry's Mirror Maze. In the hall of mirrors near the back was what appeared to be a mirror but was really a clear glass; behind the glass was an open purse with a lipstick and a wallet with a couple dollars spilling out of it. I always wanted to reach for it, but it was forever out of reach. Such to me was Howard McLean Park. And, I had several people report the same phantasmal perception of the park. Flying Dutchman Park?
Well, now there's no housing re-development and there's no park. But there is support for an aquatic center, a water park, call it what suits you, somewhere in New Albany.
The property once known as Linden Meadows is an excellent place to build a new water park. As mentioned above, the property sits close to the right of way for I-64. That alone is a huge negative for construction of new houses. Hell's Own Doorbell, the satanic Jake Brake, growls incessantly at all hours of the day or night. Such background noise is not a welcome ingredient when showcasing curb appeal. It would matter not a bit to kids playing in a pool.
Not Linden Meadows is close to hundreds of houses with children, and many of those children are not blessed with affluence. Building a water park in Not Linden Meadows would be an invitation to those children and their families to enjoy themselves while actively beating summer's heat, rather than retreating to an air conditioned couch in front of the television or game screen.
Not Linden Meadows is accessible by foot or bicycle for hundreds of kids. For those slightly farther away, State Street is just a couple blocks distant and is served, meagerly for now, by TARC buses. Now that New Albany controls its own parks, perhaps we can offer other modes of transportation through the Parks Department. Regardless of whether the water park is finally built at Not Linden Meadows or someplace else, it must be in a place conducive to people who don't drive or have access, because of working parents, to rides to the pool.
Also on the list for consideration as a site for the water park are three other locations: an undisclosed inner city spot, the front of Community Park, and the former Camille Wright Pool. Community Park, because of the pedestrian desert that is Grant Line road, is in my mind disqualified. Camille Wright probably would be fine since it once housed a popular pool, and it would be accessible by many nearby kids by foot or bike, but it is well-suited for infill housing.. And, of course the undisclosed location can't be considered since we don't know where it is.
So, that brings us back to Not Linden Meadows. It is located within safe, easy, reach of a lot of kids. The land, because of its noisy neighbor I-64, is not a prime house building spot. The proximity to the West End would bring welcome investment to that section of the City that is often slighted.
Not Linden Meadows is close to Cherry Valley golf course (it was once part of the golf course when it was Valley View). That would allow golfers to golf while other family members play in the water. When the golfer finishes the course in summer's heat a dip in the pool could be a refreshing end to the day.
New Albany has gone long enough without a pool of some sort. It's time to move toward a water park, pool or aquatic center. And, it's time to bring Not Linden Meadows full circle and return it to park status.