Rails, trails, holy grails: “That’s why we’re here,” babbles Gahan about yet another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to economically develop others at his own city’s expense.


This one is bizarre even by News and Tribune standards: New Albany mayor, redevelopment official debate benefits of Rails to Trails project (see excerpt below).

The header suggests an actual debate between public officials, but it isn’t really a debate, which as we know Jeff Gahan avoids like the proverbial plague, and seeing as Gahan and Scott Stewart weren’t actually in the same room.

Can you even begin imagining how intimidated the small town huckster Gahan is by Stewart’s career and life experience? The mayor probably keeps a voodoo doll of Stewart in his municipal-issue SUV.

Stewart patiently makes actual arguments about costs, benefits, wants and needs, while Gahan repeats his painstakingly memorized “gotta act fast right now” mantra, over and over, which reminds me of a story about Joe Stalin’s parrot.

Stalin was so paranoid he suspected his pet parrot of deviant tendencies when it imitated his crude spitting; he purged it with a death blow from his pipe.

Morris’ piece comes off as a reluctant cut ‘n’ paste job, with the critical question yet again going unasked:

Why these pyrotechnics about a vague rails-to-trails pointed at Bedford when job one for New Albany should be connecting the Greenway to the North Side, which would be a project benefiting city residents and not outsiders?

Fortunately the article includes inadvertent hilarity.

Ever diligent when it comes to preserving his lifetime sinecure, John “Pinocchio” Rosenbarger falls over himself to effusively agree with the mayor, and yet it is Rosenbarger himself who has spent years making n excellent case for the potential usefulness of a link from downtown to IU Southeast using the CSX rail line — which interests Dear Leader not one jot.

For Rosenbarger to be absolutely right about anything occurs once “every three or four lifetimes,” and yet his long-term point about connecting downtown and the north side is spot on. Now he has abandoned it, tossed right down the toilet in his eagerness to bow in the general direction of whomever signs his paychecks.

We mustn’t forget: Whenever the mayor opens his mouth, follow the money — and, perhaps in this instance, his ambition. If we are to take the most optimistic scenario, Gahan’s rails-to-trails fetish would leave the city of New Albany with 2-3 miles of a campaign talking point in the form of a pathway to elsewhere, with elsewhere and others paying most of the costs. 

Thus far, Gahan has expended more hyperbole on the rails-to-trail’s benefit to the region than his own city, as if he is playing to a larger audience, seeking to be the Mayor of Southern Indiana.

Cash and ego? That’s why he’s here. We can do something about that.


New Albany mayor, redevelopment official debate benefits of Rails to Trails project
, by Chris Morris (Tom May Biblical Odyssey)

NEW ALBANY — Scott Stewart said the Rails to Trails proposal sounds intriguing, and admits the idea looks good on paper.

However, as a member of the New Albany Redevelopment Commission, Stewart voted no on hiring Indianapolis law firm Faegre Baker Daniels (FBD) to assist with advancing the Rails to Trails project. The measure passed 4-1 recently with FBD being paid $125,000 for its services.

The Rails to Trails initiative would replace abandoned CSX train tracks that run 63 miles — starting just north of the new Sazerac facility (at the former Pillsbury Plant) in New Albany and ending near Bedford.

Stewart said there are only so many redevelopment dollars available, and he would like to see the money used to benefit New Albany residents. He said connecting neighborhoods and making them more walkable is something he supports.

“When you look at New Albany, we have wonderful neighborhoods and downtown, there is the Greenway …. there is a lot to build on,” he said. “I would like to see safe pathways for cyclists and walkers.”

Stewart said developing Rails to Trails would cost millions and while FBD may help secure some state funding, those dollars will be capped leaving the city and other communities along the trail responsible to foot the bill.

“It faces immeasurable challenges. The financial commitment is significant,” Stewart said of the idea. “It just didn’t makes sense to me.

“Where does it go from here? There is a much bigger potential to distract scarce resources from our neighborhoods and business districts. I am interested in taking care of New Albany first. This is a discussion of a difference in priorities.”