The City of New Albany is awaiting word from the Department of Justice as to whether it will give clearance to plans for redrawing the city’s ward boundaries.
The board of aldermen approved a recommendation last week to submit the plan to the Department of Justice, following a public hearing on the issue.
According to Kurt Brummett, a researcher for Three Rivers Development District, the organization that aided the city on the project, the ward lines had to be redrawn due to significant changes in population, as shown during the 2010 Census.
“Because certain areas of the city saw a significant increase in population over those ten years between the censuses, we need to redraw the lines in order to offset the deviation that has occurred,” Brummett said.
According to Brummett, the deviation occurs when the total population of a ward is different than the ideal population of that ward. It’s also affected by the number of minorities that live within each ward.
In New Albany’s case, the ideal population is 2,008 per ward. Due to recent population changes, however, Ward 1 saw a 7 percent drop below the ideal, Ward 2 saw 16 percent increase above the ideal, Ward 3 saw a 15 percent drop below and Ward 4 saw a 7 percent increase.
“There will always be some deviation from the ideal,” Brummett said. “The goal is to keep the deviation for each ward below plus or minus 3 percent.”
In order to solve the problem, Brummett said, a six-person committee was formed to work with Three Rivers to draw up a proposal for redrawing the ward boundaries.
Members of the committee included David Holmes, Murry Basden, Bob Wages, Varnell Kimmons, Patricia Wilson and Charles Harris.
The proposal calls for areas surrounding the Union County Fairgrounds, from County Road 269 west to Honeysuckle Drive, to be moved from Ward 2 to Ward 1. Meanwhile, large portions of downtown area, including portions of Highland, Cleveland, Garfield, Mississippi and Alabama Streets, have been moved from Ward 1 to Ward 3.
A small portion of Ward 4, just southeast of the Bankhead and Highway 15 intersection, was moved into Ward 3, while portions around Highland Drive and Phyfer Street and Tate Avenue and Arthur Street, were moved into Ward 1.
“The majority of the movement into Ward 3 came from Ward 1,” Brummett said. “Ward 1 in turn picked up a significant amount of population from Ward 2. As you can see when you look at the map, there were various other movements between the wards. However, the majority of the population that moved out of Ward 2 went into Ward 1.”
Brummett said that the Department of Justice has 60 days from receipt to pre-clear the plan.