Monday, August 20, 2012

Un-intended consequences?

“Un-intended consequences”

These words are usually spoken when an action, taken for very good reasons, is responsible for a debilitating harm done to a minor portion of those affected by the action. It is always nice to see it when those actions actually help that minor portion.

I don’t think that I have been shy in my outspoken criticism of the downtown circulator “trolley” and it does look like some of the suggestions that I made have been incorporated into the current routes, especially the Green Route. I am glad to see that many more of the local businesses have embraced the service and that Lextran has responded in such a positive manner. This service has had a much bigger impact than the initial downtown concept ever imagined

As I understand the original concept, the circulator was to enable those on the farthest edges of downtown to get to the center of activity and back to their offices with enough time to actually eat or shop during lunchtime. Evening activity was for downtown residents to traverse empty city blocks from housing to the nightlife and back safely. Though these are still of concern, they seem to be more minor today.

Today, we not only can get from one end of downtown to the other but also just a bit farther out and hit a little bit more shopping, dining and nightlife. I have seen and heard of many uses for the circulator since the routes expanded but I have not read any hard figures of ridership. Hopefully these will be forthcoming.

I have heard from my friends at West Sixth St Brewing, that quite a number of their patrons are arriving by ”trolley” since it eases the parking situation and the risk of driving while intoxicated. This will work to their advantage if those folks are coming from the Aylesford – Bell Court area and not just downtown.

But this is a two-way benefit. There are also folks from the Coolavin apartments just next door to West Sixth’s taproom who are making their way to the Kroger store on Euclid and coming home with the groceries for the week. In an area that has been identified as a “food desert” this access to fresh food without carfare is a win.

Coolavin is not the only example of this. The circulator travels past other assisted living facilities downtown so I doubt that this activity would not go on there also. Mrs. Sweeper and I watched as two ladies made their way from the Christian Church facility on Short St to the designated stop just to ride around town on a warm summer evening. The simple pleasures of life know no age limits.

So far, this phenomenon exists on the Green Route which cycles between the affluent neighborhoods near Chevy Chase and the resurgent commercial parts of Jefferson St. The Blue Route, running between the two University campuses, sees some mixing of the student bodies but mostly just due to their choices of dining and drinking locations. The other neighborhood residents do not tend to use the service much.

I believe that none of this was intended by those who arranged to fund the operation just a few years ago. Who could have thought that things would change this much? And does this mean that the local businessmen, who banded together to promote their downtown businesses, and now see as many or more folks leaving the downtown confines for other businesses, could give their support? I suppose so, but I hope not. If so, then the additional beneficiaries will need to stand up and continue this proven success.

I also believe that if it works in the downtown, then it can be successful in the subdivisions too, if done right.

If you have any thought on this, I would appreciate hearing them.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Missing, But For How Long?

Taking care of getting a Henry Clay statue for downtown could be a simple task if.  If we had a more motivated citizenry.  A citizenry not focused on letting the government do all the fund raising and arranging of the details.  Or maybe a government which could stay on task for more than an administration's four year term.

From what I can tell the other two monuments were funded by single minded groups and focused fund raising, some things that I find in short supply these days.

Or at least I thought so until today.

How many of us remember when they removed the Skuller's clock from Main Street during the streetscape work?  I, like many others I guess, thought that we may have seen the last of this old beauty or that it would end up in the History Museum like so many other relics.

I was there when they removed it and took the photo to the left.  I will be there when they reinstall it.

I heard today that the necessary funds were raised and repair of the timepiece is nearly complete.  Soon I hope to see some movement to prepare the base in the sidewalk and a triumphal ceremony of re-dedication and this side of the block's street work will be done.

The 21c hotel and a bit of facade work on the Odd Fellows Hall building and this block will be primo, well except for the "blue ghost".

Keep your eyes peeled for this exciting event.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Yes, Something Is Definitely Missing

After my last post I did receive many comments, which I published, and a number from friends verbally.  To you all, I say thank you.

Other than the comments idea, I have really noticed that something is indeed missing from downtown.  I have asked some friends about it and they agree, it IS missing.  It is not something that we all knew where it was and now it is gone, but something that has not been there for more than a century.

I have been drawn to the Courthouse Square for as long as I have been working downtown.  There is something about it that just keeps bringing me back.  I think that it is the monuments and the people that they represent that start to bring history alive for me.  The trees and the fountains(even when they didn't work) helped make the place livable and though they are now gone I still go back for the history.

It was November of 1887 that the people of Lexington unveiled a statue honoring John C. Breckinridge, the youngest Vice-President in American history.  He was placed right in the middle of Cheapside, whether it be a park or a parking lot, and only recently was moved to make way for the pavilion.

October of 1911 saw the displaying of the statue honoring Gen. John Hunt Morgan and whether or not you can get past the anatomically inaccurate depiction of his steed "Bess", it is still a grand statue.  It proudly sits on the courthouse lawn just a few blocks from the family home and hails the love which he had for the Southern cause.

Elsewhere around town, there are other signs and plaques which tell the tales concerning these two men.

Now, I ask you, with the newly opened Henry Clay Public House overlooking the old court house and the restored Henry Clay law office just up Mill Street, and the former location of the Henry Clay High School about a mile out Richmond Road, and the legendary "Ashland estate" even farther out, are we not missing something?

This city has made a big deal about Henry Clay and everything connected with him for a good long time, yet the one public statue that we have of him is stuck in the cemetery, high on a pedestal, where nobody can appreciate it.  Why is that?

This whole idea struck me when I saw this photo a few weeks ago.  How does New Orleans have a Henry Clay statue at ground level and we don't?  How could they have had one since 1890 and we don't?

I really do think that something is missing.