The Jeff Gahan Money Machine, Part 4: The Estopinol Group and Cripe Architects are just two facets of River Run Waterpark’s fertilizing effect.


Previously: The Jeff Gahan Money Machine, Part 3: Eight-year donor Terry Ginkins and a consistency of beak-wetting.

Some people watch ballgames for fun, but during the coming weeks we’ll be plucking highlights from eight years of the Committee to Elect Gahan’s CFA-4 campaign finance reports. Strap in, folks — and don’t forget those air(head) sickness bags.

As a preface to what follows, it’s a long and winding road when it comes to navigating Jeff Gahan’s big money. Dozens of companies are connected to Gahan’s ruinously expensive capital projects, and connecting all the dots between so many out-of-town attorneys, consultants and vendors eager to pay respects to Dear Leader with a few hundred dollars of spare pocket change from their natty three-piece-suits would be a fool’s errand.

Rather, I’m merely offering a tantalizing taste of the golden dust swirling around Gahan’s money machine, enough for us to #FollowThatSlush.

For instance, here’s a small and seemingly insignificant donation: a one-time only, never-to-be-repeated $100 tithe to the benevolence of our Dear Leader.

This C-note came in during the 4th quarter of 2015. River Run (New Albany Family Waterpark) had opened in July. The donor’s connection is circled.

Krempp Construction of Jasper was River Run’s general contractor, and a rarity in the annals of Jeff Gahan’s all-encompassing campaign finance Shop-Vac Mechanism because there is no record of donations coming to Hizzoner from Krempp. However, I suspect the list of sub-contractors might yield a more interesting result, and that’s coming soon.

River Run exists today owing to the windfall Tax Increment Financing-propelled city parks build-out that so grandly summarizes the Gahan style of governance on the down low, recalling that no one can recall parks being raised as a campaign issue in 2011 — not even once.

In October of 2012 the city of New Albany abruptly seceded from the combined New Albany-Floyd County Parks Department, paving the way for new parks planning (2013), contracts to be awarded (2014) and construction completed in 2015 — providentially and by sheer coincidence just in time for the municipal election season in 2015, and loads of sunburned selfies by the water slide.

The $19.6 million bond floated by the city footed the construction of the aquatic center, Silver Street Park and upgrades to Binford Park. In April 2014, the redevelopment commission accepted Krempp Construction’s base bid of $6.89 million to construct the aquatic center.

It’s worth recalling that in 2011 the city’s share of the parks budget was $517,914. By 2016 this figure had ballooned to at least $2.08 million.

Bearing in mind that pre-construction matters like engineering, design, legal representation and various other consultancies are not determined by bidding — they’re at the discretion of appointed boards stuffed with lackeys and partisans, among them redevelopment, board of works, sewer board and stormwater — here’s a reminder that thankfully at least a few principled objections were raised.

Design costs for big New Albany projects draw criticism, by Daniel Suddeath

Some city officials aren’t pleased with how much money Cripe Architects will be paid to design the multiuse center at Hoosier Panel and the makeover of Binford Park.

The New Albany Redevelopment Commission approved on Tuesday paying the Indianapolis company up to $35,000 to design a refurbished shelter house, which will double as a concessions stand, at Binford Park.

That amount is in addition to the $122,000 the company will receive for engineering the rest of the Binford Park project and another $277,000 to design the multiuse recreational facility at the former Hoosier Panel property.

“That’s just too much money,” said New Albany City Councilman Dan Coffey, who is also a member of the redevelopment commission.

He abstained from voting on the additional $35,000 contract which was approved by the redevelopment commission 3-1. Councilman and redevelopment member John Gonder voted against the proposal.

Gonder questioned why Mayor Jeff Gahan’s administration chose to accept Cripe for Binford Park and the Hoosier Panel project and The Estopinal Group to design the outdoor aquatic center without getting other proposals for comparison.

All three quality-of-life projects are being footed by a $19.6 million bond.

The rough estimate for the cost of the multiuse center is $5 million, and up to $9 million for the aquatic center.

Gonder said he’s discussed the aquatic center project with an engineer who said he “can easily shave a pretty significant chunk off that pool price.”

But the city, with the approval of the redevelopment commission, has already entered into a contract with The Estopinal Group and Cripe for design.

The late Wayne Estopinol, founder of TEG (The Estopinol Group), dropped cash into Gahan’s in-box in 2013 and 2014 with $5,000 divided between two donations.

For the longest time I couldn’t trace an Indianapolis donor named William H. Stinson, who made five donations to Gahan from 2011-2015, totaling $2,700. Stinson remains nearly invisible on-line, but his title at Cripe says it all: Director of New Business Development.

Team Gahan doesn’t do irony, so give credit to Mayor Gahan’s daughter, bookkeeper for the campaign finance enterprise, for being impeccably and probably inadvertently honest about Stinson in 2011.

She identified him as a “political engineer.”

Political engineer?

In other words, her veneer-schlepping dad’s most favored type.

Belated postscript: American Structurepoint’s role in the River Run buildout and the company’s campaign donations) were inadvertently omitted in Part 4. Read about them here: The Jeff Gahan Money Machine, Part 13: United Consulting Engineers rocks Deaf Gahan like a hurricane.

Rebuttals are welcome and will be published unaltered — so don’t forget spellcheck. If you have supplementary information to offer about any of this, please let us know and we’ll update the page. The preceding was gleaned entirely from public records, with the addresses of “individuals” removed.

Next: The Jeff Gahan Money Machine, Part 5: In 2019, Gahan will pass the half million dollar mark in campaign fundraising since 2011.