Thursday, June 19, 2014

1 Out Of 4 ?

By some counts the Mayor is now 1 out of 4 for big downtown projects. He has not stopped or greatly altered he CentrePointe block. South Limestone, for all its expense ($7000 a foot?), is working out well. Rupp Arena's redesign has fallen to University's re-emphasis on education if not lack of statewide public interest. The 21c hotel may be his one bright spot.

The Mayor and Council have now declared the Rupp remodel to be in a state of suspended development. That does not mean the the rest of the Arts and Entertainment district, of which Rupp Arena's re-do was initially a minor part, cannot proceed. The 20 acre High St parking lot should be developed and with an emphasis on residential spaces for families.

The property taken for the High St lot was once home to many families. The fact that they were of a lower economic status made it easy to target them for removal or relocation. That much land being used so infrequently is a greater waste than bailing out certain developers. If we desire to expand our downtown's central core, that would be an excellent direction and place to start.

Being that the property is owned by the government, or at least a quasi-government agency, and the desire is to encourage private development whenever possible, the City should “jump-start” the process by lowering the acquisition costs in the downtown area. Developing smaller, individual buildings rather than massive, CentrePointe sized projects and including welcoming street facades to enhance the walkability of the area will work here – as it has in other locations. (Can you say JDI?)

What happens to the seldom mentioned Town Branch Trail and the amphitheater/park to replace the Cox Street lot should take a back seat to reviving our downtown residential scene so that someone is downtown to enjoy those amenities. Driving downtown to walk along a reconstructed stream bed or rebuilt rolling hills just does not do it for me.

So, where are the other glimmers of hope for downtown?

The Main & Vine project may be getting its parking garage (yea?) but it is very quiet down there.

The competing IMAX style theaters show little signs of progress as we near the end of June.

The Kickstarter campaign for a restaurant in the Distillery District grabbed some press.

I am keeping my eye on West Short St. The parking lot beside and between the Village Idiot and Church Street. Some recent property transactions over the last three years which coincide with the creation of LLC's of the new owners lends credence to the rumors of major players inquiring about the space. I need to look more closely for recent survey markings and I will look.

I also hope that the Food Truck days at the newspaper, Cup of Commonwealth and Dad's Favorites will continue the offerings that a goodly number of our young professionals appear to partake.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Not Easy Being Green

Kermit, the frog, may have said it best. “It is not easy being green”, especially in Lexington, Ky.

Take the issue of recycling your household materials. There are a lot of items on the approved list but not everything with the international recycling symbol is acceptable. I know that, for my family, we put out nearly 3 times as much recycling material as we do waste material. I hope that that is pretty much standard.

It takes way more effort to recycle the household electronic stuff than usual. You have to make special trips across town and you have a limited number of times per year per household. Certain items are allowed and others are not (CFL bulbs are not).

Then we have the community drop-off locations for those who do not have individual or adequate residential service. You know, the ones with the blue roll-off boxes with the small black doors, where you place all recyclable materials in the container, without separating. The map below shows the LFUCG managed locations as of this morning.

Last week the map also presented a spot (No. 2) at Sam's Club on New Circle Rd, between Liberty and Winchester Rds. Apparently the site was being either well used or vastly misused as the ground around it became a repository for things that would not fit in the container. Being a nuisance for the property owner, they asked for it to be removed.

One cannot help but notice that it results in a massive hole in the northeast quadrant of the older part of town. Compared to the rest of the community, should we be surprised that it could be so well used? Do we expect the residents there to be the type which will not recycle?

I do understand the type of corporate citizen Sam's Club wishes to be, but this may have been the wrong approach. Perhaps Costco could step in and demonstrate more of their business leadership.

In a city that touts itself as forward thinking and urging it residents to “Live Green”, this map nearly shouts that the stratified economic class living on the south and west sides of town are getting the service intended for all. The actions taken by Sam's Club and the City just appear to reinforce that notion.