The City of New Albany became something of a surprise beneficiary of the $249.5 million bond bill passed by the legislature Monday when it was learned the bill included $175,000 for the city.

The money was designated for “(i) construction, development and enhancement of and upgrades and improvements to bicycle trails, (ii) repair and renovation of and upgrades and improvements to the city's sportsplex and related facilities and/or (iii) construction and development of an outdoor amphitheater and related facilities.”

“The first time I learned about it was last (Monday) night,” Mayor Tim Kent said.

City officials had informally asked Rep. Margaret Rogers to help the city out with funds any time she could “but it was more of a verbal thing,” the mayor said.

Kent said tourism and marketing director Sean Johnson had talked with Rogers about possible funds for a permanent stage at the Park Along the River and sent her an estimated price, but that was all.

“We hadn’t heard anything and thought it was dead,” he said.

The mayor said he is not sure how the money will be allocated since the designation covers a wide area, and especially since they had no idea the money was coming.

It will be up to the board of aldermen to determine what to spend the $175,000 on. Their April meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

Also included in the bond bill were $2.6 million for the Mississippi Railway, $1 million for the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum, $10 million for the University of Mississippi, $25 million for Mississippi State University ($71.7 million for the universities overall) and, locally, $175,00 for a multi-purpose building in Bruce, $100,000 for a museum in Houston and $450,000 for road repairs in Baldwy.

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