Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Lyric Theater

This morning I responded to a Herald Leader article about the Lyric Theater as follows:
The problems with the Lyric date back to the late Baesler/early Miller administrations and their failure to use the funds granted them by the State. The City tore down the Ben Ali garage and the Ben Snyder building to build an arts center. Delay after delay followed until the State judicial arm took the land for the new courthouses. Lexington had already used the money for other purposes(not arts related) so the State sued for the return of the money. Lexington settled on the Lyric, partly in response to the Tony Sullivan and Ron Berry fiascoes, without owning the property, something the State should never have allowed. After wresting the title from a local African-American, faith based organization, who appeared to be going nowhere with the property, plans were set in motion to repair the structure(albeit slowly).

The City has done little except have plans prepared and shore up the roof, and now there is an urgency to complete the project. With the passage and signing of the ARRA of 2009 and this project being on the Mayor's priority list, what are we willing to bet that it get high marks from his special commission. Lexington will get another $6 million for the Lyric, but will that satisfy the State's agreement or will they consider that to be "double dipping"?

$12 million of taxpayers money to do a $6 million job which will still cost us taxpayers $ 300,000 a year to maintain, in an area that cannot or will not create something for themselves.
I know that now I am being called "racist"for questioning the need to renovate the theater, which I have NOT done, or it is being said that I have called for the demolition of building, which I have NOT, or that I am accusing the Newberry folks for wasting money, which it does sound like. What I am doing is questioning whether the State and the local populace will remember that, once again, a former administration has made promises and commitments (usually on the emotion of the moment) that cannot or will not be fulfilled.

I, for one, would like to see the building renovated AND new commercial activity extended toward MLK Blvd. to the west AND a renewed commercial vigor along Third St, from Race St to Midland Ave. Therefore I stand behind the recommendations of the Central Sector Plan and the East End Plan which should be released in the next few months. I know that the consultants have worked closely with the neighborhoods involved and have included many of their suggestions. The one thing that is not in the plan and should not be in the plan is a call for the local government to fund all the improvements.

The funding of the Lyric renovation can be a catalyst in the revitalization of the whole area, but you need the other ingredients to be active for a catalyst to work. This funding (or lack thereof) can either speed up of slow the work needed in the area AND the other elements need to be active for anythin gto happen.

Now what is necessary is for the community to come together and accomplish those recommendations, let us not leave it to the City to do all the work.

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