Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dan must be boiling the bitter Coffey over this one.

Final votes on paving funds slated for Monday at New Albany City Council meeting (News and Tribune).

Kudos to Daniel Suddeath for somehow locating a council member (a) who is capable of communicating rationally about paving, sans the pogram-laden code language and ubiquitous red herring of two-way street conversions, and (b) willing to do so for attribution. Is it just a delirium-induced dream?

No, but it’s the first council coverage in a good while not to be fatally compromised by undue reliance on president Dan Coffey’s self-serving, inaccurate and misleading gibberish.

Instead, Suddeath shocks New Albany by spending a few minutes with Jeff Gahan, and while we’ve freely disagreed at various times with the sixth district representative in the past, he takes a public position here that is heard far too seldom these days:

“I think it’s important the council does not get caught up in micro-managing the decisions on which roads need to be paved.”

That’s a stunner, isn’t it?

Could there be a glimmer, however paltry, that someone on the council holds a balanced view of its relationship with the executive branch?

In the context of recent utterances by Coffey and at-large councilman Kevin Zurschmiede, the latter far too obviously relishing his newly chosen role as GOP agent provocateur, Gahan comes off as positively statesmanlike. It’s been so long since a council mayoral hopeful opted to "stealth" campaign by respecting the office he aspires to occupy rather than denigrating it as the source of all evil, we’ve forgotten what the experience feels like.

Congratulations, CM Gahan … er, I think.

Coffey’s anti-them-people diatribes, complete with harmony vocals by Jethro, will be collated very soon in a matchbox-sized volume we're calling, “Just Say ‘No’ and ‘Fuck You’ to Anyone Living on East Spring Street.” Look for more in my Tribune column later this week, as I ponder the impact of square dancing, monomania and legislative illiteracy on the city's future prospects.

R.I.P. - Ron Weigleb, former Floyd Central football coach.

The Tribune's Chris Morris does great work in a poignant final interview with Ron Weigleb, the former Floyd Central football coach who died Saturday morning.

Weigleb loses battle, but will live on in hearts of many.

From my perspective, I can't recall meeting a more likable person than Ron, and few men in our area excelled as he did in positively influencing generations of young men through teaching them athletics played the right way. Sports were his life, but in the days when I would run into him following a trip to Europe, he always was keenly interested in hearing about my experiences. I've never forgotten that, and I believe it shows that he was a well-rounded individual.

Last week the NA-FC school board did the right thing (and as we see now, at the right time) in naming Floyd Central's football facility after Ron. It's regrettable and sadly indicative of performance that two board members didn't see it that way and voted against the proposal.

I don't believe Ron ever would have held their "no" votes against Rebecca Gardenour and Lee Ann Wiseheart, and perhaps that's final proof that he was a better man than I'll ever be -- because I absolutely do hold it against them.

Matthews goes nutzoid.

At the very time when Republicans nationwide are showing few signs of an intelligible (intellectual?) pulse, it’s not surprising to see Dave Matthews publicly devolving into bile and spittle.

Floyd Co. GOP chair living bad dream (scroll down)

... Millions of Americans voted last November for “change.” Well, you got your change! e now have an American President who goes around the world and apologizes to foreign nations for America. I doubt you could find any president who would ever have demeaned the office by bowing to a foreign dignitary, much less one representing the radical faith responsible for the terrorist attacks of 9/11. We criticized the previous administration for doubling the national debt, but this guy has tripled that in just the first 100 days.

Look, we tried to warn you that this man was the most liberal, socialist-minded member of the Senate and that he would bring his opinions to bear upon the Presidency if elected. We warned you that he would lead the way with a “tax-and-spend” philosophy that would likely bankrupt the economy and tax our children, grandchildren and all their progeny for decades to come. Wait until he unveils his plan for universal health care! With little to no resistance from any branch of the federal government, we better all hope these four years go quickly. Of course, it could just be a bad dream. Or maybe a comedy routine gone awry! It does, however, make me kind of afraid to ultimately hear the punch line ...
To paraphrase, that's all spleen, no cattle. I never imagined I'd miss William F. Buckley so much.

Looking for constructive proposals from a somehow viable political party? Or, satisfied with venom directed at the inheritors of an America cheapened and degraded by eight years of Republican misrule? Dave's rant does little to enhance a thinking man's options.

It would be far more instructive if Matthews and his Democratic counterpart, John Wilcox, spent their letter writing time explaining to voters how their political parties have platforms and policy positions that actually impact local issues. Everyone knows I respect John, and actually, I respect Dave, too, but what I don’t respect is diatribes like the preceding that offer no solutions, just more of the same blind labeling.

Unfortunately, what I’m seeing at present from what passes for local Republican “leadership” is the same sort of stalking horse obstructionism that already is being done all too well by those passing as Democrats.

Obviously, the time draws near for an alternative movement, one that is non-partisan in the traditional sense of party groupings.

Pants Down Progressives, anyone?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

New exhibitions at the on-line Gamborg Gallery.

On our recently concluded fact-finding mission to the UK and Denmark, housing in Copenhagen came courtesy of Allan Gamborg, who maintains an apartment in the city even though he resides in Moscow, Russia.

I've written previously about Allan's rather unexpected second career as a purveyor and advocate of Soviet-era art and artists. Not only has he been able to make a living as a dealer, but his work has exposed to the world numerous underappreciated artists who may have been forgotten had not Allan taken an interest in them.

As in the past, permit me to thank Allan for his hospitality and to share his latest posting. Enjoy the links to the on-line galleries.

---

Dear Friends,
We have a series of new exhibitions on the Gamborg Gallery on the web:

THEMES


The Soviet Woman an Work -
http://russianart.dk/exhibition.asp?e=331
In the Soviet Union, women were strongly encouraged to work in the industry or agriculture, to help build socialism. Consequently, this theme also became important for artists to depict. This exhibition shows women laying asphalt, operating the nuclear power plant, at the threshing floor, coal mining women, and many more.

Pioneers' Room -
http://russianart.dk/exhibition.asp?e=332
A series of posters by Konstantin Ivanov, created to decorate the Pioneers' room in schools or pioneer camps.

ARTISTS


Nikolai Tereschenko (1924-2005) -
http://russianart.dk/exhibition.asp?e=333
Well known Moscow poster artist and expressionist painter

Umnov (1925-2002) -
http://russianart.dk/exhibition.asp?e=336
Moscow artist. Before the war he worked at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow doing decorations and stage designs, for example for the performances Decabrists (Декабристы) and The Red Poppy (Красный мак), as well as stage curtains for ceremonies.

Genrykh Valk (1918-1998) -
http://russianart.dk/exhibition.asp?e=334
Famous Moscow book illustrator, who did a large number of illustrations to childrens' books. He also worked for more than 15 years for famous satirical journal Krokodil.

Vakilov (1925-2002) -
http://russianart.dk/exhibition.asp?e=335
Well-known Ufa artist.

Golitsyn (1925-2002) -
http://russianart.dk/exhibition.asp?e=337
Famous Moscow graphics artist.

BOOK ILLUSTRATIONS


Yvonne and Her Friends - (Инонна и ее друзья) -
http://russianart.dk/exhibition.asp?e=338
Illustrations by Lipa Rojter to the 1952 book by S. Sarechnaya "Yvonne and her Friends" (Ивонна и ее друзья) or (Ивонна - дочь Франции) - the tale of a young Parisian female communist.

Pinocchio – illustrations by Galina Dmitrieva - (Буратино) -
http://russianart.dk/exhibition.asp?e=339
1970s illustrations by Galina Dmitrieva

Cinderella – illustrations by Galina Dmitrieva - (Золушка) -
http://russianart.dk/exhibition.asp?e=340
1970s illustrations by Galina Dmitrieva

Web Gallery: http://www.gamborggallery.com/

Friday, May 29, 2009

ESNA neighborhood cleanup photos.








Submitted by Greg Roberts and ESNA.

I got your paving plan right here.


Open thread: Council and city hall's fingerpointing tango, and Dan Coffey's latest bluff.

Last night, after the special city council meeting, heated words were being exchanged in the corridor.

In a predictably flaccid effort to be cheerful, the council president observed that the meeting was over, and everyone should be pleasant in the aftermath. I replied that it's difficult to be cheerful when watching his twice monthly antics.

He responded by wagging that famously pudgy finger and warning me that while I may not realize it, I'm going to be held responsible for all that I've blogged. He seemed to be implying that he would take action in an as yet undefined legal sense. It was a threat, to be sure, and another example of hundreds offered here during the past five years as to his temperamental unsuitability to serve in office, whether here in New Albany or at the most isolated outpost in outermost Mongolia.

I then noted aloud that I've signed each and every one of these hundreds of posts, and will continue to do so, this being more than can be said for the anonymous obstructionists who take their post-meeting cues from the president's cell phone, and I told him so, urging him to bring it on and take whatever steps he feels necessary to try and make the truth as reported here go away.

Not yet, said the president: "It's better to wait," he replied, snarling in a way that's coming to be regarded as boilerplate.

Wait like a coiled copperhead snake, Dan?

Like waiting to redistrict, and waiting to pave, and waiting to find reasons not to pursue economic development, and waiting to fund public safety, and waiting to interject yourself into any legislative issue so as to preserve an appearance of omniscience?

Just remember this, councilman: It isn't libel if it is true.

Your anonymous supporters are the ones writing untruths, not this blog, so if you have the goods, please bring them to bear.

If not, then let it go and desist with the now commonplace bullying routine. Not only is it tasteless, but it's increasingly tedious, too.

If anyone else reading would like to comment on last evening's antics, please do so. I have a Bank Street economy to help develop.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Live blogging continued: Special meeting begins, as does the nonsensical Coffeyist grandstanding..

Special meeting now called to order. Apologies for spelling errors and the like. I'm a poor typist.

---

Dan Coffey asks for public communications and city official communication, which means that Carl Malysz distributes estimates for paving costs and implications. Cost has risen. The November 2008 estimate is on the table; Coffey believes that the estimate is padded because gasoline is so much cheaper now, and says the bottom line is that contractors are cutting bids to the "bare bones." Doesn't believe that it's gone up like that. Thinks his charm and experience obviously would do a better job.

(We look it up: Price of oil was below $50 in November 2008, and it was $64.76 today. Coffey's at sea)

Steve Price decides to grandstand on the two-way street issue. Carl reminds him that the original $10 million was for paving. We now argue semantics about paving and two way streets. We must decide whether someone is going to pull the rug out and turn a street around ... gads.

Kevin Zurschmiede still wants specific bids, and says there is no hurry, as this is the first reading.

carl notes that this is about more than paving. There's also milling.

John Gonder: Why are you worried about it not being used for paving?

Coffey: It's happened before!! We have to be careful with "them people" (not exact quotes, but body language)

Price: Paving's a necessity, not a want.

Jack Messer: $2 million won't go anywhere. The plan, please? Needs a plan before he'll consider a bond issue.

Carl: Not quite true. Streets graded 6 through 1 are the ones being targeted. Speaks of the specifics of the giant binder that contained the whole plan, and the administration wanted to rasie the capital to get it done, and might be able to do quite a bit given the hunger of contractors. With only $2 million, we're not sure how to spend it. They haven't gone there yet. $10 million does it all; $2 million doesn't dent it.

Council: Where's the list? Communication?
City Hall: Mayor communicated, said he was interested in priorities.

No one trusts anyone ... too many petty ambitions ... no one will take the lead in consulting with the other.

He said/she said/he said/he said/she said/he said/she said/he said/he said/

----

Price: If we do the $2 million, 15th street, Jo-Lar pet store, sewers wordswordswordswords.

Coffey: Seems to be supporting something, just not sure what. Something between this reading and the next one? Something with numbers showing the order of paving priorities?

How much EDIT money is being wasted on sewer subsidies?

Jeff Gahan: Public wants streets paved. $2 million is a start. Appropriate and start paving.

Messer: Public wants to know what will be paved.

Mickey Thompson explains that some time, they can't pave a bad road because of utilities planning to come through later.

KZ: Tell us the worst ones we can pave this year, and that's where we start.

John Rosenbarger: "This is the most systematic approach in the history of the city of New Albany." First was cataloguing, second step pricing, and third step determining a total. Federal money available for some matters of signalling, et al. Explains that decisions have to be made when all can't be done at once. If there was $10, the strategic planning can begin, but without, piecemeal is the only available choice.

John yet again explains the concept of a draw bond, i.e., spend only what is needed. 100th time?

Coffey: Still a lot of questions. We did not procrastinate!!! Coffey doesn't understand why two separate studies were done ... wait, there were not. John says that it was updated. Veering off the point.

Gonder: Why are we not using the bond option when we don't pay it back until it is used? Why discuss these other options? We haven't done the maintenance, which got us into trouble.

YES!! COFFEY NOW RETURNS TO THE SEWER SYSTEM!! IT'S THE FAULT OF SEWER REPAIRS! NO TAXPAYER BURDEN!!

Gonder: Won't we be depleting EDIT funds?

Meeting on Monday. June 1. Carl says there'll be a list of the first $2 million.

Vote asked for. 1st reading only; 2nd and 3rd Monday.

Unanimous in favor.

Live blogging returns: Oddball council public hearing/meeting on paving, in progress now.

Public hearing at 7:15 p.m. CMs Caesar and Benedetti are absent.

Jameson Bledsoe speaks first and equates two-way streets with uninformed opinion. He has made this point in at least three letters to the Tribune, and I will try to provide links when possible. He expresses a willingness to meet with proponents and discuss. Let's hope he's serious about this.

Jeff Gillenwater answers, and is immediately cautioned by Dan Coffey to restrict comments to factual matters and not personal innuendo. Thus, Coffey presumably disqualifies himself from speaking in public ever again.

Bluegill then provides the factual evidence requested by Bledsoe. He speaks of previous city staff findings and approval expressed by numerous residents. Jeff also notes economic development strategies based on targeting money on things that will increase economic viability rather than subsidizing other piecemeal strategies.

Greg Roberts next: In favor of two-way streets. Speaks of neighborhood association support for two-way streets, and pegs it to safety issues.

Randy Smith: Not supposed to be a meeting about two week traffic, so asks if there might be such a dedicated meeting. Coffey says he likes to give people a chance to speak, prompting guffaws in the front row. A few years ago, Randy heard Coffey mention damage to cars from bad streets, and notes that since then, drivers have been paying $800 yearly to compensate for damage to autos. "Don't be shortsighted," but fears that they'll half-ass it as always.

Kay Garry: Looked up additional appropriations. Approval from up north not necessary for the use of EDIT funds; she corrects a previous statement to the contrary. She merely must certify the expenditure. This removes an impediment to borrowing from one pocket.

Steve Price: Will this be used for paving the streets?
Coffey: That's what the council will decide, i.e., it cannot be used for the dastardly two-way streets!

More in a a bit ...

Open thread: The board of public works, sidewalk repairs and the inevitable, orgasmic innuendo from behind the mask.

I didn't know it myself until IAH pointed it out, and sure enough, it was right there in yesterday's Tribune:
The board (of public works) awarded a bid to Knight Concrete to build sidewalks and curbs in small sections along Bank Street — near the Bank Street Brewhouse — and State Street — near the old Speakeasy and home of Wick’s Pizza. The cost for both jobs is $16,177.

Freedom to Screech already has weighed in, with predictably anonymous and forgettable results, among them the suggestion that the length in years of one's taxpaying be the determining factor as to whether improvements are made.

It's the usual, palpable nonsense. Consider the former occupants of our building, who sold bakery products for 30 years without a trace of work on the sidewalk outside the front door, a sad patch probably last addressed during the 1950's. By FOS's embittered reckoning, Rainbow's request for work would have been legitimate -- perhaps because they sold all-American white bread products made from leftover school paste and not craft beer consumed by "them" people.

So, let it be known: I (and the property owner) asked whether the city would like to partner with us in improving our section of the street, and the city agreed. Consequently, we'll be spending a few thousand dollars of our own to outfit a streetside seating area. People will come into New Albany and spend both time and money, in our establishment and others. Some of them may like it here and decide to stay.

More importantly, we'd have done the same whether Doug England or Randy Hubbard was mayor, because that's the way life and business works. Professor Erika disagrees, and you may, too, in which case I'd be glad to devote this space to a mask-free discussion among responsible adults -- unless New Albany has an ordinance against it.

Today's Tribune column: "Surreal barroom of dreams."

Here's the link, and in keeping with recent practice, the text also follows. Because I had to file columns prior to departing on holiday, I took the liberty of posting in advance. Now that holiday is over, this "full text" citation may continue. Or not. In the meantime, there's catching up to do.

----

Having spent the better part of 30 years diligently studying human behavior in my chosen habitat, the barroom, the first thing I noticed when the well-dressed woman rose from her table and approached me was the way she held her wine glass.

She was clutching the defenseless glass like the handle of a sword, and there was nothing dainty about it.

That, my friends, is a bad sign.

It is reputed that in the days before indoor smoking went the way of the rotary dial phone, the famous defense attorney Clarence Darrow would carefully insert a thin wire into his cigar, which held the steadily lengthening ash in place as Darrow smoked and spoke, commanding the complete attention of the denizens of the courtroom as a result.

In much the same way, watching someone grasp a stemmed wine glass with a closed fist tends to make you wonder when the increasing pressure exerted by an obviously agitated drinker finally will snap the glass in half, and while glassware can be replaced, it’s always a tragedy to waste good booze.

Which assumes, of course, that the booze in question isn’t common rotgut, but there’s an upside either way, because the puddle of spilled alcohol will shine a floor better than commercial cleaning products ever could.

---

“I want to ask you a question about that column you write in the newspaper.”

Sure. What about it?

“Just who do you think you are writing like that?”

Um, like what?

“People around here, they don’t understand what you’re saying. They ask me, what’s he saying? Who do you think you are, writing things that people don’t understand?”

(There was ice in the wine. How very frightening!)

Well, I don’t have an answer for that. I write the only way I know to write, and I write for people who are capable of …

“And what about those big words? Do you think you’re better than people around here? Why don’t you write things that we – I mean they – can understand?”

Okay, let me ask you a question. Why is it my responsibility to help you – er, I mean, them – read English? If you have to look up a word in a dictionary, then you’re doing the same thing I did to learn the word in the first place. I look at dictionaries all the time.

“You want to know why they can’t understand it? I’m going to tell you … in a minute.”

(She balanced the glass on the table, staggered toward the lavatory, and upon returning, drained the remaining ice cubes and wine in a single, well-executed gulp.)

“Now, I’m going to tell you. Do you know how many people in this town live in rental properties? I’ll tell you how many. 63% of them, that’s how many. Why don’t you write so they can understand you?”

You must be kidding me. What does being a renter have to do with reading comprehension?

“You know what I mean. I’ve lived here my whole life. You don’t know me, and you don’t know my family. All you want to do is intimidate people. Who do you think you are, writing like that?”

---

My interrogator didn’t let me answer the final question, and that’s just as well, because it was time for her to go to the bar for another drink. At least the wine glass survived, and we remain thankful for small favors.

Beside, it was time for me to walk home, and as I exited the side door, I noticed my inquisitor’s expensive, gas guzzling sports car parked squarely in the middle of two parking spaces, presumably to protect it from the deprecations of local, illiterate rental property occupants, and I felt the urge to rationalize the irrationality of her opinions in the context of wealth, privilege, and the way that some people insulate themselves from the real world.

But I resisted the temptation. Literacy and illiteracy, comprehension and incomprehension, getting it and not getting it – they aren’t so much about money as one’s personal willingness to try to learn and understand, right?

Here’s what I’ve learned in barrooms over the years. For many people, alcohol is a veritable truth serum. It transforms circumspection into exhibitionism, and alchemizes unspoken thoughts into bold theses nailed to the front door of the dive in question. I haven’t seen that woman since, although we’ll probably occupy the same saloon space on another, similarly enchanted evening.

What’s more, my experience tells me that while it’s possible she remembers the one-sided conversation we had, it isn’t really likely. She’ll remember few if any of my answers, and so we’re destined to have the same chat over and over again, because that’s the way the New Albany Syndrome works -- and another way it works is that the more one is consumed by the syndrome, the better chance that he or she rises to a position of elected or unelected functionary according to the eternal futility of lowest common denominators.

For me, the barroom remains just as sacred a place as the church confessional, and what is said there, stays there under the majority of normal circumstances. Accordingly, the story I’ve told today may or may not be entirely true. It’s possible that I’m embellishing for dramatic effect, exercising creative license, and writing metaphorically.

It’s also possible that the story is completely factual.

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reminder: Public hearing and council meeting to kill two-way street conversion.

A public hearing and special council meeting to vote on the appropriation of $2 million in EDIT funds for paving has been announced for Thursday, May 28. The hearing will be at 7:15 pm and the meeting at 7:30 pm in the usual third floor Assembly Room location.

It should be noted that much of the chicanery around potential paving has occurred as a matter of jihad against the proposed two-way street conversions with the conversation sometimes veering in a very personal direction, with objections based on where the conversions would take place rather than how.

The fact that a special, largely unadvertised meeting was scheduled to kill a widely popular proposal is unfortunately not surprising.

Those interested in two-way, traffic calmed, pedestrian and bike friendly streets might want to consider raising their voices.


Today's LEO column: Absence of local craft beer in Louisville Slugger Field.

If you’re a baseball fan, it’s important to contemplate the legacy of the late Bill Veeck, who was a true American original.

Veeck was the rarest of all baseball creatures, a team owner deserving of enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. His specialized skill was reviving moribund franchises with zany, fan-friendly marketing schemes and inventive promotional shenanigans.

Until Veeck, baseball tended to be too impressed with its trademark soul-of-Americana piety, but he generally refused to take the sport all that seriously, operating on the belief that a visit to the ballpark should be about more than the ballgame itself, with entertainment and good times that would help casual fans feel as comfortable as the die-hards with their pencils, studiously keeping score.

Love them or hate them, many facets of the game day hoopla we take for granted nowadays, including the fireworks displays, music, concerts, dot races, mascots, tugs-of-war and outfield swimming pools, owe a conceptual debt to Veeck’s whimsical determination that baseball loosen up and have some fun.

----

Nowhere else does organized baseball have more fun than in the minor leagues, that free-ranging habitat where a young Bill Veeck first learned his trade. More than 250 minor league teams relentlessly market themselves as joyful throwbacks, the locally-oriented antitheses of the overbearing and corporate major leagues, and viable, inexpensive entertainment alternatives.

The Triple-A Louisville Bats are quick to remind us that they’re our one truly local pro team, playing in the local ballpark, charging fair ticket and concessions prices for a local experience, involving the local community, and unapologetically deploying as many of Veeck’s exuberant tricks as possible.

A question: Should local food and drink be a part of this equation, or do the commercial implications of catering to the needs of 10,000 people preclude small-scale, local food and drink purveyors in favor of more widely known mass-market producers?

---

In the spirit of Veeck, I’m an unrepentant advocate of localized food and drink options for baseball games in Louisville Slugger Field.

As for the availability of local craft beer, Louisville Slugger Field lags behind the experience of the minor leagues as a whole. Progressive concessions programs elsewhere not only exist, but thrive. Here in Louisville, we’re “treated” to Grolsch (Holland) nights, Corona (Mexico) specials, and an overall hegemony of Anheuser-Busch (Belgium, Brazil and maybe even St. Louis -- on a good day).

Given the excellence of locally-brewed craft beer in metro Louisville, and the spectacular growth of the category in America, what must happen for there to be a representative selection of locally-brewed craft beers at Louisville Slugger Field?

I’ve tried arguing that good beer is its own sales pitch, and that small local businesses should get a fair shake in a facility constructed with governmental assistance.

I’ve wondered why a ballclub so proficient in meeting the needs of paying customers representing varying demographics continues to ignore those ticket buyers who want locally brewed craft beer.

Silence raging, I long ago reached the only conclusion possible under the circumstances. Apparently product placement in sporting venues constitutes one of the last great bastions of unfettered pay-to-play, and 800-lb gorillas wielding corporate sponsorship bludgeons simply can’t be surmounted. Until proven wrong, that’s my belief.

Consequently, I’ve attended few Bats games of late, although occasionally I’ve gone to Browning’s Brewpub to enjoy good beer, listen to the crowd roar on the other side of the wall, and wish I could be doing both in the same place.

But maybe there’s a thaw in the air.

According to Gary Ulmer, President of the Louisville Bats, this season a rotating Browning’s beer will be on tap at one of the portable stands along the concourse in the area behind third base.

Courtesy of Ulmer, here are the other beers being served at Louisville Slugger Field:

Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Miller High Life, Coors Light, Bud Light Lime, Michelob Ultra, Michelob Amber and Light, Amber Bock, Shock Top, Landshark, Red Stripe, Smithwick's, Rolling Rock, Red Hook IPA, Sam Adams, Sam Adams Brown Ale, Beck's, New Castle, Harbin, Bass, Stella, Labatt's Blue, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Tiger, Heineken, Peroni, St. Pauli and Corona.

Browning’s is a start, although if you’re keeping score, that’s 30 non-local to 1 local. What would Bill Veeck say about that?

The New Albany-Floyd County Animal Shelter's "Dog Days at the Drive In!" on Saturday, May 30.

Submitted.

---

Dog Days at the Drive In!

The New Albany Floyd County Animal Shelter is thrilled to announce another dog friendly event happening in our community. On May 30th, the Georgetown Twin Drive In Theater is opening its gates to four legged family members, allowing dogs on leash to attend for a $2.00 admission fee. All dog admission fees collected will be donated to the NAFC Animal Shelter.

The Drive In will be premiering the Pixar movie Up, followed by Hannah Montana. Screen 2 will be playing Night at the Museum and X-Men Wolverine. Besides these great movies, several exciting child and dog friendly events are planned. There are plans to have an inflatable slide and bounce house available for the children’s pleasure, while dogs can try their paws at a dog agility obstacle course, watch the agility demonstration, or kick back and relax with a pet massage!

Booths will be set up by area dog related businesses and adoptable animals from area rescues along with a visit by the New Albany Floyd County Animal Shelter’s Wags ‘N Whiskers Wagon. Special concessions will even be sold just for the dogs to enjoy on their day out!

Don’t miss this fun filled family event! Gates open at 5pm. Further details and rules for bringing your pet will be available at the Drive-In website.

Over three thousand animals a year come through the doors to the New Albany Floyd County Animal Shelter seeking homes. Hundreds of pet owners have been assisted in spaying and neutering of their animal by the Floyd County Humane Society and the Floyd County Animal Rescue League. Together, we can make a difference.

Shelter Adoption Hours: Mon through Fri: 12-4 p.m. Sat: 11-2 p.m.

GreenTree Mall Adoption Hours: Tues-Sunday 12-7pm (closed 3pm-4pm/lunch)

Cats also at SuperPetz and New Albany Feeders Supply Pet Stores

Adoption fees Cats: $50 cats, under 4lbs. are $60 Dogs: $70

DNA's Exclusively New Albany: "Experience Your Own Backyard" on Wednesday, June 3.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

UK College of Design Shippingport proposals at 21c.

UK College of Design Proposals to Revitalize Shippingport, Louisville
May 25 – June 8, 2009
atrium gallery
Reception: May 27, 2009, 5pm

21c Museum
presents an exhibition of proposals by the University of Kentucky College of Design for future projects and development for the Shippingport area of Louisville.

The College of Design focused on this area of west Louisville because it presents a potential for economic expansion. These proposals range from vocational schools, a culinary school with adjoining restaurant, a centralized hospitality complex serviced by light rail, networks of pocket parks that connect to the existing Olmstead Park system, to a Green Ford Motor Company campus where hybrid and electric products would be designed, developed, and constructed.

For the dates of May 25 – June 8, a large model will be displayed in the atrium gallery along with video presentations of the proposal studies. On May 27th at 5pm, a reception will be held in Atrium gallery with the graduate students and distinguished guests.

About the Brown Forman Visiting Chairs in Urban Design


Gary Bates is the principal architect of Space Group Architects and was the Brown Forman Visiting Chair in Urban Design for the fall 2008 semester. He is the principal architect for Space Group Architects, Oslo, Norway; for more information, please visit the Space Group Architects website.

The Brown Forman Visiting Chair in Urban Design for the spring 2009 semester was Julien de Smedt, principal of JDS Architects, Copenhagen Denmark. For more information, please visit JDS Architects.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sustainable City Series: Transportation

The Urban Design Studio continues its series on sustainability on Tuesday, focusing on transportation. Reservations are required but there were about 50 spots still available on last check.

FORUM 9: TRANSPORTATION

Tuesday, May 26th, 6:00 pm
Glassworks, 815 West Market, Louisville, KY

The ninth forum of the Sustainable City Series held by the Urban Design Studio focuses on transportation practices that create sustainable communities.

More efficient forms of transportation systems must be developed in order to provide regional sustainability. Transportation provides the backbone of regional development. City-form has been largely dictated by the available modes of transportation at the time they developed. This can be seen in the compactness of older city centers where the mode of transportation was largely by foot or horse drawn carriage. The placement of cities along navigatable waterways such as Louisville was driven by transportation. With the advent of the automobile we see the subsequent development of suburbs spreading farther from the core of urban activity. In order to return to a more sustainable region, transportation modes such as bicycling, rail and bus systems must be developed. Join us on May 26th to hear what our region is doing to develop these modes of transportation.


This event, as previous forums, is free to the public. Space is limited so please fill out this form to reserve your seat at this free event. You must enter seperate RSVPs (as guests) for every person you wish to reserve a seat for, thank you.


GUEST SPEAKERS:

Barry Barker - Executive Director the Transit Authority of River City.

Dirk Gowin - Executive Administrator of Metro Louisville Bike Louisville

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Business First says let's hear it for...

A revitalized downtown New Albany — Like many cities of its size, New Albany has been searching for years for a way to revitalize its downtown. Empty storefronts and under-utilized buildings give witness to a once vibrant downtown that lost out to suburban sprawl.

Downtown New Albany received a shot in the arm last year with the opening of a new YMCA and a city-owned aquatic center. Now a group of investors have plans for a $45 million development featuring condominiums, shops, a boutique hotel and a parking garage on a Main Street block.

The partners in New Albany Horizons LLC have a successful track record of redeveloping historic buildings in New Albany. The planned 210,000-square-foot development would be their most ambitious project yet.

There are a lot of unique challenges to doing a downtown development, whether you’re talking about a city the size of Louisville or one as small as New Albany.

Downtowns should be the hubs of their extended communities. We wish the New Albany Horizons partners good luck in making their vision come true.


Thanks to R for the tip.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"We have all this green space that we’re not using. People have to eat."

This is the second time in a week that I've heard about the development of a community garden downtown. It's an encouraging trend that makes good use of or reclaims green space and builds community. Kudos to St. Marks for responding to the city in such a positive way.

St. Marks garden to help feed needy, by Chris Morris (The Tribune).

Lisa Graves said the idea is a simple one. But the benefits are endless.

Graves said it was divine intervention that moved her to start a garden in the rear of St. Marks United Church of Christ at 222 E. Spring St. The garden will face Market Street, and it began to take shape Thursday afternoon.



Learn more about community gardening from the American Community Gardening Association.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ennui, come by honestly.

I've spent the morning rummaging through guttural vicissitudes, seeking to faithfully reenact the lingering consequences of council meeting attendance. Thus far, I have failed.

I suppose that makes this an open call for candidates.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Today's Tribune column: "True religion, Trappist-style."

Give me that old-time religion,
Give me that old-time religion,
Give me that old-time religion,
It's good enough for me.

The merits of old-time religion seldom are displayed to better and tastier effect than by the delicious ales brewed on the premises of six Trappist monasteries in Belgium and a seventh in the Netherlands. The beer world knows these holy places by the names of their beers: Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren and Koningshoeven.

There is an eighth member of the International Trappist Association (founded in 1997): Mariawald, in Germany, which to my knowledge is not a beer producer, although it is rumored to sell a proprietary liqueur. Since the Trappist appellation extends to all products emanating from member monasteries, perhaps Mariawald makes cheese or some other food suitable for accompaniment with beer.

There are many such pairings, as we learned five years ago this summer, when our merry band of intrepid local beercyclists embarked on a quest for the grail at each of the six Belgian brewing monasteries. After tuning our bicycles in Amsterdam, we rode the train to Roosendal, peddled across the frontier and fought through mud and rain to Westmalle for lunch.

During the twelve days that followed, a veritable circumnavigation occurred. Second was Achel, followed by Rochefort and a dawning realization that the Ardennes indeed are to be considered mountains, not mere hills. Orval, then Chimay, and finally we broke away from French-speaking Hainaut province and arrived in West Flanders for Westvleteren and a meeting with a Belgian television film crew, which was assigned to chronicle strange things that foreign visitors do in Belgium.

It was our own Tour de Trappiste, and I’ll never forget it.

----

It sometimes surprises pious Americans that a religious order would undertake the production of alcoholic beverages. It shouldn’t. In days of yore, which in practical terms signifies the Dark Ages through Napoleon, European monasteries owned vast, self-sufficient agricultural estates. These testified to the pervasive power of the Roman Catholic Church, and from the time of the Reformation, events conspired to steadily erode the economic clout of these monastic entities.

From the start, monasteries in southern climes grew grapes and made wine. Further north, barley and other cereal grains were fermented into beer. In both cases, considerations of “sin” did not enter into the estimably practical equation. Wine and beer preserved the value of perishable foodstuffs, provided a finished product that could be sold or bartered, and offered daily nourishment to the monks. So it goes today, albeit on a vastly reduced scale.

For certification as a Trappist brewery, the brewing operation must be located on the grounds of the monastery, although as in the case of Chimay, later stages of the process can be finished elsewhere. Monks must retain involvement and overall control of the brewing operation, but can hire secular brewers. Finally, a portion of the profits accrued from the brewing must go to specified charitable purposes.

The remaining brewing monasteries in Benelux have combined to develop a badge that signifies compliance with these requirements. Beyond denoting origin, neither the badges nor the word “Trappist” implies precise characteristics. All are top-fermented ales, with some dark and others pale. A few are hoppy, and others sweet. “Trappist" is an accredited appellation of origin -- nothing more, nothing less. The rest is up to the individual monastery brewing tradition, and results vary.

Arguably, Chimay Blue and Westmalle Tripel are the best known Trappist ales among casual beer lovers. The first is dark and belongs with red meat, while the second is pale and magical with seafood. Achel’s signature Kluis is relatively new, just like the revived brewery that brews it, and Westvleteren 12 remains reverential, if seldom seen outside Belgium.

Orval comes from a rural monastery with a physical setting that is the most stunning of all, with a jumble of newer buildings and older ruins nestled in a forested valley where time seems to stop. The utterly unique hop and yeast character of Orval is rewarding, but to me, the highest achievement of Belgian Trappist brewing remains Rochefort 10, which issues from the reclusive Abbaye Notre-Dame de St. Remy near the isolated Ardennes town of Rochefort.

My cherished Rochefort 10 weighs in at 11.3% abv (alcohol by volume), and safe, light lawnmower beer it isn’t, pouring creamy brownish-black, with mellow, deeply fruity esters and subtle hints of nuts. The flavor is pure silk, full-bodied, tasting perhaps of semi-sweet chocolate, with an alcohol note or two suggesting licorice liqueur. It is contemplative and refined, and should be sipped slowly for dessert.

In the traditional world of beer, imitation, flattery and profit are interwoven. Numerous breweries in Belgium, Netherlands and elsewhere release a cornucopia of “Abbey” ales, and these range from the inspired to the simplistic. Only ales marked with the approved seal can be called Trappist, but there is considerable overlap between these and the many Abbey imitations. The only way to chart the similarities and differences is to drink as many different varieties of both as possible, and that’s why it’s fun being a professional.

The monks may devote their entire lives exploring the relationship between man and God, and while doing so, they follow the time-honored Rule of St. Benedict and the guidelines of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance. We can be thankful that in seven locations, the same brothers augment their cosmic search with the science of fermentation, keeping venerable brewing traditions alive.

It either flows or it doesn't: Another evening in Council chambers.

As reported by the Tribune and C-J, the City Council will this evening consider whether or not to hold Georgetown accountable for a sewer deal it struck with New Albany some years ago, raising the town's sewer rate and instituting penalties as agreed for failing to begin construction on its own sewer plant within the specified time frame.

Though it's now being billed as some sort of unfair rate hike by opponents, Georgetown sought this deal and hasn't lived up to it. After four years including an extension, town officials can't even say for certain where their plant will be built, let alone when. Perhaps the sewer board should dispatch ROCK representatives to Council chambers to point out that people tend to make use of the sewer system behind closed doors with their pants down. The rest of us should probably start advocating for an independent sewer district.

In other waste handling news, City Attorney Shane Gibson's review and correction of New Albany codes continues with Shane asking the Council to address deficiencies in 150.101 and 150.103, both dealing with cleanliness of premises. Amendments to these codes would clear up confusion in the violation notification and response process and name the Board of Public Works as the Appeals Board, which is currently mentioned but not defined. The proposed amendments are much needed, overdue measures.

The 2009 CDBG one-year action plan is up for adoption and CM John Gonder will introduce a resolution promoting the Smart Growth America program.

A public hearing and special council meeting to vote on the appropriation of $2 million in EDIT funds for paving has been announced for Thursday, May 28. The hearing will be at 7:15 pm and the meeting at 7:30 pm in the usual location.

Those interested in two-way, pedestrian and bike friendly street reclamation might want to consider raising their voices.


The agenda, provided by City Clerk Marcey Wisman, is here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Carnegie Center: Renovated space, podcasts, and Penny Sisto's take on world religions.



Submitted:

The Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana is proud to announce the opening of a new exhibit, “Faces of Faith: the Search for the Divine,” Art Quilts by Penny Sisto. The exhibit will be open May 22 through July 11, 2009 and is the inaugural show for the Carnegie Center’s newly renovated changing exhibitions galleries. In this new exhibit, Penny Sisto examines commonalities in five world religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Visitors will be able to listen to podcasts of Sisto and Dr. Roy Fuller, Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University Southeast, speaking about the artworks in this exhibit. The podcasts will be available at the Center or for download at www.carnegiecenter.org. “Faces of Faith: the Search for the Divine” and accompanying programs are generously supported by the Arts Council of Southern Indiana and the Carnegie Center, Inc.

There will be an opening reception for this exhibit on Friday May 22 from 6-8 pm. Visitors can enjoy light refreshments and a chance to meet Penny Sisto as they explore her quilts in the galleries. This event is sponsored by the Carnegie Center, Inc. and is free and open to the public.

Penny Sisto is an internationally recognized artist who has exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. International presentations of her work include the exhibition of a grouping of Holocaust quilts at the Gatehouse of Auschwitz and a selection of her Slavery series quilts that were displayed at the Royal Armories Museum in Leeds, England in 2008. She has won numerous awards and honors for her artwork and has been the subject of two public television programs. She is known for the difficult subjects, such as AIDS, poverty and racism that she addresses in her works, as she advocates for social justice and peace.

In her artist’s statement for “Faces of Faith: the Search for the Divine,” Sisto writes, “I wanted to follow the thread of my own belief, a belief which teaches that all of us are equal in the sight of God and that each and every Faith will lead us to the same place of enlightened compassion and stillness that we call the Divine. In this quilted journey I rediscovered that we find similar stories and parables in every religion. My desire was to illustrate those paths which unite us… to show through these quilted images the whispers and inner prompting which guide us ever deeper into our individual Search for the Divine.”

There are a number of programs planned in conjunction with this exhibit, including a group discussion about religion, two gallery talks by the artist, and a bus tour of religious architecture. Pre-registration is required for the bus tour only, and participants will pay a small fee to help cover the cost of the bus. All other programs are free. Please call 812-944-7336 for more information about any of these events.


Click on the image below for a full schedule of related programs.

Culture = Culture

When I was in the ninth grade, two buddies and I ran into our geometry teacher in the clubhouse of our local golf course one weekend, making him the fourth in our group quite by accident. He only played nine but his strategy was clear from the first tee: to distract from our budding games by appealing to our budding manhood, namely by quizzing us about our girlfriends.

I don't actually recall if we even had girlfriends but it was just as annoying by the third hole anyway. None of us had the nerve yet to remind him that it was the knocking up of his high school girlfriend that ultimately led to his teaching certificate and resulting authority over us, so we just put up with it-- until Monday morning.

When the second period bell rang, we began quizzing him on two subjects: any advice he could give us about golf and his fervent interest in the romantic lives of high school girls. Given the untoward nature of the latter, the former became our primary means of communication for the remainder of the year.

Angles became club choice discussions. Bisection was a way to read greens. You could just barely see the golf course from the classroom window, and only when the leaves were down and the train was moved, but it was enough to create a gathering spot away from the chalkboard, thus keeping us from at least a few proofs a week for a few weeks at a time.

Practical experience rather than purposeful teaching carved the transitive property into my consciousness. Avoidance of sex = Golf = Avoidance of geometry. Therefore Avoidance of sex = Avoidance of geometry. Anything else I knew about geometry at the time came from private self-study, which is another parallel with sex and my fourteen-year-old self that you should probably avoid yourself.

So when I ran across this this statement from Hugh McLeod at Gaping Void - Culture = Business = Marketing = Language = Communication = Art = Sex = Culture... - I couldn't help but find it somewhat semiotic, poetic, and strangely nostalgic, all of which leads to a question any self-interested teenage boy would ask:

Where does one go in New Albany to get laid?

And, of course, any revitalization-interested but very married 37-year-old man would ask:

What does the answer to that question mean in terms of attracting certain market segments?

If the chances for mating ritual are thin, what sort of young virile person would want to come here? If nobody's getting any, why would an older available person stay?

Do we have any bona fide pickup joints? Do we need one?

Discuss if you wish. I'm going to find my geometry book.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nuts and Bolts: Neighborhood asset mapping

Often, perhaps too often, neighborhood activists focus on what we want. When formulated into an inspiring vision and augmented with a strategic map for getting there, that's both necessary and useful.

What's just as necessary, though, is consideration of what we have. To the extent that community building and revitalization are the end result of mobilized capacities and assets, and they always are, what we have provides the foundational building blocks for future developmental efforts.

Adapted from Kretzman and McKnight's Building Communities from the the Inside Out, the following is provided by friend and long-time revitalization leader and teacher John Lehner. I'd love to bring John back to town at some point for some direct insight but, until then, his resource and asset typology is a good starting point for discussion around collaborative revitalization strategy.

Primary Resources
Resources that exist or originate in the neighborhood and are significantly controlled by individuals or entities inside the neighborhood.

Examples:
Skills, talents, and experience of residents
Individual Businesses
Personal Income
Relationships, Social Capital
Citizens' associations
Religious organizations
Financial Institutions
Real Estate

Secondary Resources
Resources that exist or originate inside the neighborhood but are significantly controlled by individuals or entities outside the neighborhood.

Examples:
Public schools
Social service organizations
Police and Fire departments
Parks
Waste management
Employers
Real Estate

Potential Resources
Resources that originate outside the neighborhood, impact the neighborhood, but are significantly controlled by individuals or entities outside the neighborhood.

Examples:
Public capital improvement expenditures
Public information
Media
Welfare expenditures

What does your neighborhood's asset map look like?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Downtown in the news. Good news.

Fox 41 News, with some input from Mayor England and NABC's David Pierce, recently gave notice to what a lot of us have known for some time: Downtown New Albany is happening- now.

The recognition is great. What's being recognized is even greater.

Thanks to those who've helped make such reporting possible. There's undoubtedly more to come.


Transcript:

New Albany wants to attract people to live downtown


Despite the recession, plans are moving forward on a major project in downtown New Albany. And it's just one of several developments being planned.

Developers want to build a $40 million project across from the Parthenon Building, a downtown landmark. The block would be transformed into a mixture of shops and housing, shops on the ground floor, and a mix of condos and apartments with a view of the Ohio River on the upper floors.

New Albany Mayor Doug England says the idea is to, "Remember when people was younger, people lived downtown, then we went through this period of everything had to go to the suburbs, now it's coming back."

This week the city and the developers, New Albany Horizons, reached an agreement that allows the project to proceed. Mayor England says, "It's very important, every project like this that brings shops, that brings people living, most imporant thing we have to have the shops downtown to generate money. But they can't generate money if they don't have people going in there, I think with people living downtown it will make it viable."

It's just the latest bit of good news for downtown New Albany. The YMCA opened last fall. Two Louisville restaurant companies, Wicks Pizza and Toast, which specializes in breakfast service, have announced plans to open restaurants there.

And the New Albanian Brew Pub just moved in this spring. Brewmaster David Pierce says, "It's fun to see it after all these years, because I grew up here and it was pretty dismal the last fifteen to twenty years. And to see it revitalized with Toast on market and, of course, us coming in and some of the other places opening up, it's very heartening."

Construction is also underway on a permanent canopy over the stage at the city's amphitheater along the riverfront. Its a $700,000 project that's designed to attract major entertainers.

Pierce says, "We're close enough to Louisville, so we're big city, but we're small enough so you don't lose that small town feeling."

The mayor says renovation of the amphitheater should be compete in time for a July 3rd celebration. And he says developers of the project along Main Street hope to begin construction by late summer.


Here's a link to the FOX 41 video: New Albany Downtown Development

Sunday, May 17, 2009

OUCH!!! Mama Said That Burner Was Hot!

As the April showers taper off and the May flowers burst open in all of their finery I note that one had best enjoy the peaceful refreshing evenings on the back deck swing while they last.

I’m reminded that the long hot daze of summer is just around the corner and if rumored upcoming events have any credibility, the 3rd Floor Assembly Room air conditioning system is going to get quite a workout.

Not to worry though as Trish promises to have plenty of Sierra Nevada on hand for the afterglows at Studio’s.

As I understand it Mayor England has been renegotiating terms with Southern Indiana Waste Systems in order that they take a more active role in collecting refuse other than just household garbage.

That would include yard waste, brush, the occasional sofa, and the like. Of course this service would require a stipend increase in monthly fees.

The implementation of such would free up the Street Department to return to their duties of maintaining New Albany’s streets, signs, and other infrastructure.

The other hot button issue that may very well be on this Thursday’s agenda for our Common Council is a proposed Sewer Rate increase for Georgetown customers.

You can link to the Tribune article here; http://www.news-tribune.net/local/local_story_135111700.html

The jest of it is Georgetown has been given several extensions to the agreed deadline for them to transfer their waste water to their own treatment plant thus freeing up capacity for New Albany to move forward with its own development plans.

As I understand it as long as they are feeding affluent into our system, we are under strict scrutiny from the EPA looking for capacity overloads.

Were that to happen for any reason, we’d be back in lockdown stage in terms of our own growth & expansion.

For a variety of their own in house reasons Georgetown has been unable to begin construction on their treatment plant and our Sewer Board has decided further extensions without an increase in fees would be unwise for New Albany.

Of course all these efforts and many others as well require Common Council approval prior to becoming viable. And the odds are??

As you can readily see the summer is shaping up to be a warm one on the Sunny Side of the Ohio!

So what think ye of the above proposals?

As for me, I’ve no problem paying a few pennies a month more to see the trash gone.

On the other matter although I have no beef with the residents of Georgetown, I don’t see the wisdom continuing to treat their affluent if it risks us losing the ground we’ve gained in our ongoing effort to pacify the EPA.

All in all, I’d suggest coming early for the good seats and bring your own palm leaf fans!

Coffeydom crashing down: Positive investment points to end of negative rule.

New Albany: West-end site eyed for new government center, by Daniel Suddeath (The Tribune).

John Lopp hoped to attract anchor tenants to a planned development in New Albany’s west end when he announced the design last year.

While the official start date for phase one of the project hasn’t been announced, interested buyers are coming to the table, and they include the governing bodies of Floyd County and New Albany.



While opinions on the best location for new government offices may differ, what's clear is that an increased presence of professional workers and residents in the West End is a threat to the sustenance of 1st District Councilman Dan Coffey's political career. Oft positioning himself as the protector of wee ones against the proliferation of imaginary bogey men, Coffey went to great lengths to kill this development. Luckily, it didn't work.

His claims that no one in the West End wanted to sell are disproved by the existence of contracts and options to transfer ownership of 47 parcels of real estate and a projected $20 million in phase one investment reveals his initial attempt to rezone blocks of already commercial property to residential as the self-serving inanity it was.

I hope West End voters are paying attention. If and when the West End gets new restaurants, a grocery store, and park, they'll know that their council representative fought against the very possibility of them. In a neighborhood that's struggled with negative stereotypes for decades, Coffey has sought their continuance at the expense of a more positive future. Coffey's political success is dependent on failure, namely the self-inflicted type that makes residents believe he's the best they can do. And yet, in this instance like so many others, it's when Coffey's wild-eyed self-aggrandizement fails that betterment actually occurs for both the West End and the city as a whole.

Wouldn't it be nice if winning in the West End wasn't contingent on defeating their own council representative?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

SEND Indy: Doing it right.


With the help of some friends, I had an opportunity to spend a portion of yesterday with Paul Baumgarten, the Fountain Square Main Street Manager. Fountain Square is an Indianapolis neighborhood, roughly the size of New Albany and similarly located near a large metro business center, that's experienced significant reinvestment in the past decade or so, thanks largely to the efforts of SEND, Southeast Neighborhood Development, of which Paul's Main Street program is a part.

As we look for examples of what "we" can do, SEND provides ample evidence of what can happen when neighborhood leaders pursue revitalization in an organized, cooperative manner that seeks to increase capacity. From two volunteer groups, they've transformed into a highly skilled professional organization with a staff of ten and the financial clout to tackle multimillion dollar projects.

I'll let them explain the history:

The 1970s were a difficult time for the southeast side of Indianapolis. The construction of I-65 destroyed thousands of homes, hundreds of businesses, and many key schools and churches, while cutting a unified neighborhood into isolated pockets. The problem was compounded by the nationwide effects of suburban flight and disinvestment in urban neighborhoods.

So a group of forward-thinking residents and businesspeople working out of the Southeast Multi-Service Center began leading small home repair and urban design projects. On February 23, 1983, this group incorporated as the Fountain Square & Fletcher Place Investment Corporation. At the same time, a second group grew out of neighborhood churches to form the Fountain Square Church & Community Project, and attracted hundreds of volunteers from around the region to rebuild affordable homes.

Several years later, these groups merged to form Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND). Since 1991, SEND has invested more than $35 million dollars in affordable housing, commercial renovation, youth development, and greenspace improvements. SEND has:

* Transformed more than 130 deteriorated and vacant houses into affordable homes.
* Repaired more than 400 homes to make them safer and more energy efficient for the homeowners, some of whom have been in their homes for over 50 years.
* Developed 135 affordable apartments for residents ranging from senior citizens, to families, to artists.
* Renovated and leased more than 150,000 square feet of commercial space.
* Helped train more than 300 youth to help rebuild their community.
* Created or improved six parks and planted hundreds of trees along roads throughout the neighborhood.

These efforts have made a vast difference. Today, property values have increased approximately 90%, allowing home owners to maintain and improve their homes with confidence that they can recover their money. A growing number of new residents are investing SEND neighborhoods with leadership and new ideas. Vital services such as a quality library, a police station, and a new health clinic meet resident needs. Businesses are now acquiring space in the Fountain Square commercial area—and Fountain Square is now one of six Indianapolis Cultural Districts.


SEND, like their Fountain Square neighborhood, is worth checking out.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Built to Last.

From CNU:

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), the leading international organization promoting walkable, neighborhood-based development as an alternative to sprawl, announces the winner of its 2009 video contest. The team of First + Main Media from Julian, CA and Paget Films from Buffalo, NY, award-winning documentary film producers, won for their short film entitled Built to Last. Members of the team include John Paget, Dr. Chris Elisara, and Drew Ward.

The outstanding 3-minute video asks the question “What’s the greatest threat to our planet?” and shows how reimagining our cities and suburbs to be sustainable and walkable will cut carbon emissions, commutes and calories. "When it comes to saving the planet, what we build is the greatest threat…or the greatest hope," say the filmmakers in Built to Last.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Today's Tribune column: "Wonderfully and delightfully us."

Henceforth, I'll post the text of my Thursday Tribune columns and add links to the Internet location later. That way, I can facilitate advance planning.

----

A few years ago, upon returning to her office in Louisville after a holiday, my wife noted to a co-worker that we had vacationed in Europe.The co-worker’s reply: “Did you fly or drive?”I’m trying to imagine a European with the equivalent of an American elementary school education making a similar comment, but I simply can’t. It’s inconceivable.

Here, it’s a recommendation for elected office.

----

Previously I’ve written about my birth as a tragically misplaced European, dropped into New Albany by a drunken stork without the saving grace of GPS. Accordingly, I retain a healthy sense of continental-style irony, something few native-bred Americans can appreciate.

It certainly helps to appreciate irony when delving into the mailbag, as in this comment recently posted on a local blog:

“I wish you well, and hope your business fails downtown.”

Anonymity always empowers malice, but oddly enough, I don’t take it personally, because this sentiment is bigger than me. More than a few local commentators sincerely hope that downtown fails, period, and given traditional political groupings, tribal intemperance, individual envy, periodic outbreaks of heartburn and their own absence of coherent alternatives, the existence of terminally spiteful unwell wishers comes as no surprise – until they’re elected to office.

Only then does the irony profusely bloom.

NABC has been building a business on the north side for more than two decades, and now we have expanded into downtown. Our plan for this expansion is calculated to provide eventual profit for the company and its owners, as well as a quantifiable boost to revitalization efforts currently underway. It’s a risk, and the investment is large by our previous standards.

So it goes that having chosen to make an investment in the betterment of downtown, we’re faced with the ironic prospect of enhancing the value of those council districts represented by New Albany’s two loudest and most vociferous opponents of progress. NABC’s new brewhouse is located in Steve Price’s fiefdom and lies two short blocks away from Dan Coffey’s.

Ironic, eh?

As purveyors of gloom, doom and decay management, perhaps it’s no surprise that neither Coffey nor Price has congratulated us, and yet their districts will benefit from the ripple effect of “progressive pints” even though NABC’s fledgling existence downtown is a mortal affront to the councilmen and their hapless acolytes, precisely because it puts the lie to their central article of faith in non-development: “No one wants to invest downtown.”

Unsurprisingly, if someone does seek to invest in downtown, obstructionists like Coffey and Price pursue policies designed to thwart it, lest the “nickel and dime” flotsam and jetsam comprising their campaign “platforms” disappear into the breeze like many empty White Castle boxes drifting like tumbleweeds down Spring Street.

Opposition to the future is all they know, and it’s the time-dishonored default for New Albany. Ironically (there’s that word again), these politics of decay comprise a platform of futility that neither political party bothers challenging in any coherent way, ever.

In turn, this gaping leadership void inevitably implies that the prime hope for progress forever lies in the ability of activists, business people and contrarians to ignore the conniving politicians, sidestep the turf battles, and invest in New Albany, anyway, perhaps for no other reason beyond a need for someone to do something – anything – positive.

To review: We elect intellectually vacant politicians who promise that nothing will change for the better.

We get exactly that.

It isn’t ironic.

Not at all.

----

Many of these business people, contrarians and activists, and far fewer politicians, look forward to convening monthly at Develop New Albany’s “First Tuesday” networking gatherings.

The May edition was hosted last week by the River City Winery (321 Pearl St.; 812-945-9463; www.rivercitywinery.com/), which is preparing to open its doors full time later this summer. Evening wine sampling should be underway soon, with the owners still putting in long hours toward opening the kitchen. Call for details and opening hours before visiting, but take my word for it: When you see the job they’ve done remodeling and refurbishing the historic Baer Building, you’re going to be impressed … and thirsty.

The winery will be taking advantage of an active subculture that revels in something I’ve always jokingly referred to as “alco-tourism.” While there are other, more subtle ways of describing it, the underlying impulse is the same. Growing numbers of folks enjoy searching out small, distinctive, handcrafted libations, and they’ll go out of their way to find them.

In a planet filled to the brim with fast food franchises, the independent River City Winery will be one of a kind, attracting visitors who choose consciously to ignore the everyday chain eateries and watering holes, dining and drinking instead at locally-owned restaurants and pubs. Such is the reaction to the mass market mentality of the cookie cutter that related possibilities for profitably investing time, money and interest in niche alternatives are better placed for success than ever before. It works for bistros, wineries, cafes, coffee shops and breweries, as well as art galleries, bookstores and specialty retail businesses.

To concentrate these niche businesses in a place that had been previously undervalued, like the historic business district of a city like New Albany, is to create an atmosphere with a good chance of luring like-minded people to come and take a look.

Just don’t expect the conjoined councilman to understand any of it. After all, their job is to prevent growth from happening.

Coyle dealership to go? What's to come?

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Chrysler wants to eliminate 789 dealerships as part of its economic restructuring. New Albany's Coyle Dodge at 513 East Spring Street is on the list. Thanks to R for the tip.

The dealership site had been previously indicated as a possible location for new city government offices.

What now? Anybody got the scoop?

Getting on with it: An appropration of support.

The City Council is the legislative branch of our local government. In essence, they're in charge of the laws on the books and the purse strings.

As many of us have examined our culture of non-enforcement and its causes over the years, we've become aware of the failure of past Councils to repeal certain laws as they've passed new ones pertaining to the same subject areas. For any given situation, there may be two or more laws in effect, making it nearly impossible to know which law to apply in the relevant moment. As a result, enforcement is often more difficult than necessary even if fully attended.

These conflicts have been well known for some time. In my few years of involvement, concerns about their existence have been brought to the attention of the proper legislative branch, our Council, many times by other officials and citizens alike.

Had any Council previously taken up those conflicts of their own volition as a matter of legislative duty, the City Attorney could now be spending more time enforcing the already corrected law instead of rewriting it. Unfortunately, that's not the case and Shane Gibson is wading through ordinance corrections in addition to other duties.

But that brings us back to the purse strings.

As of last week, we have a new code enforcement officer. It's also my understanding that there is some sort of tentative agreement from a local judge or two to make time in their dockets for enforcement cases. There's no doubt we have or soon will have cases aplenty.

What we need is an attorney to prosecute those cases who's not being pulled in myriad directions by several different governmental bodies and their relative spheres of concern. The cases themselves could be lengthy, so we need full legal attention as soon as possible.

Our current Council, in order to show the support for code enforcement they all purport to share, should appropriate at least $50,000 in EDIT funds per year for three years to support the legal prosecution of building and housing code offenses, including violations of historic district guidelines, none of which to my knowledge have been legally pursued in court in at least six years.

Merely stating that one supports code enforcement means little and, given that our building and housing stock (not to mention the people who live in it) is one of our most valuable, irreplaceable resources, $150,000 over three years is a pittance compared to the eventual social and economic returns that consistent enforcement could generate.

Need I remind anyone that we still have over $9 million in EDIT revenue pledged toward subsidizing the sewer bills of entities who don't pay EDIT taxes?

The City Attorney and administration, in turn, should contract with someone forthwith with the understanding that the legal exposure inherent in enforcement (as we'll likely be sued for daring to interrupt decades of lawlessness) is simply a cost of doing business and should be treated not as a disincentive but as a proving ground for any new legislation needed to correct weaknesses in existing code.

For the public's part, efforts to identify obvious and serial violators should be revisited. I know. You've already done that. I'm asking that you do it again. I have two, one old and one new, that I'm already investigating.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Today's LEO column: On the integrity of craft brewing.

I've decided to begin publishing the text of my "Mug Shots" columns for LEO. The link will be added later, and then you can go back and see if I was edited.

---

“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”

This quote by the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe appears at the end of “I Am a Craft Brewer,” a four-minute video created by Greg “Arrogant Bastard” Koch. It was screened during Koch’s keynote speech in Boston during the recently concluded annual Craft Brewers Conference.

In the video, craft brewers from across the United States take turns reading a manifesto of revolutionary intent and recapping the achievements of craft brewing, detailing the positive principles that the better beer movement supports – local commerce, community commitment, environmental sustainability – and reiterating the malice and vacuity of the monopolistic status quo, which made revolt necessary in the first place.

Koch’s typically uncompromising beers – Double Bastard, Old Guardian, Vertical Epic and others – have always been favorites of mine. Now, like Frank Capra’s memorable World War II documentary series, Koch has given us an inspirational reminder of “why we fight.”

“Craft beer is innovation, independence, curiosity and collaboration, character and family.”

American craft brewers have revitalized a domestic industry, served as an impetus for brewers and brewing entrepreneurs worldwide, helped reanimate moribund brewing cultures, and provided a renewed, vibrant ethos that encompasses the best that beer can be.

As with any dynamic, constantly evolving movement, the ever expanding American craft beer consciousness cannot be confined to the fermented liquid in the glass. It is an ethos all its own, a lifestyle, a way of looking at the world, and as with most worldviews, it cuts both ways -- necessarily. Craft beer stands “for” and “against,” and this duality is forcefully stated in Koch’s video.

“We must draw hard lines. We must expose those who would seek to capitalize on what we have created.”

I’ve been drawing those hard lines for more than 25 years, ever since my first day at the package store, and I’ve tasted thousands of different beers since then. Even so, my own education is still ongoing, but long years of experience in the “better beer” game have given me a solid foundation of knowledge, as well as the confidence to express what I know, allowing me to pursue my prime mandate of teaching beer.

Consequently, make no mistake: My personal integrity, which represents the sweat equity I’ve earned during all those years in the trenches, absolutely compels me to tell the whole story, positive and negative, for and against, and while there will always be gray areas, some matters are painted in black and white, such as my certainty that price tags cannot be affixed to one’s ideals, honesty and commitment to living what’s true – and for better or worse, that’s what I do. I live them, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Moreover, neither ideas nor ideals can be contested with mere dollars. However, they can be contested with improved ideas and ideals – assuming they exist.

Is beer as important a topic as politics, health care, unemployment, war, and peace? Admittedly unlikely, and still I remain prepared, willing and eager to show that elements of each are surely present in the study of beer as an art, a science, a business pursuit and a beverage that makes life more livable.

----

This week is American Craft Beer Week, and the Brewers Association (http://www.beertown.org) has released a Declaration of Beer Independence. Excerpts follow:

“The beer I drink furthers our culture and teaches us geography and helps to nurture a sense of community, and helps to make the world a better place, and I declare to practice the concept of ‘Informed Consumption’ which has me deserving to know if my beer comes from a small and independent brewer or if it is owned by a mass production brewing company.

“I want to know why so many of my local beer brands are not available in many of my favorite restaurants, bars and beer stores, and I encourage beer sellers to offer a wide selection of beer styles and beer brands that includes beer from my local and regional breweries …

“I therefore declare to support America’s small and independent craft brewers during American Craft Beer Week May 11-17, 2009 and beyond.”

Quotes in bold above are from the Koch video, which can be viewed here: http://www.vimeo.com/4432533

Redevelopment Commission OKs land conveyance for Main Street development.

Holliday, Goodman, and crew are moving forward with help from the City and the exploration of options for new government digs continues.

New Albany panel approves downtown redevelopment plan, by Grace Schneider (Courier-Journal).

For the past 18 months, a group of investors has assembled the major elements of a $45 million plan to convert a block on New Albany, Ind.'s Main Street to condominiums, shops, a boutique hotel and a parking garage.

Their vision moved a step closer to reality today with the city Redevelopment Commission's approval to convey six lots in that block to New Albany Horizons LLC — in exchange for having the property cleared of residual contaminants.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Open thread: Mayor says sell Baptist Tabernacle and Shrader Stable.

New Albany Mayor Doug England wants to sell church, stable sites, by Daniel Suddeath (The Tribune).

Mayor Doug England is asking the New Albany Redevelopment Commission to make the Baptist Tabernacle building available to private ownership interests today...

England is also requesting the historic Shrader Stable property — finished in 1875 — along Main Street be sold. The administration would like to develop stringent guidelines as to who can purchase the Tabernacle and Stable sites.



What's the best outcome? Tightly controlled development that seeks to protect the historic integrity and prime locations of the sites or undefined rehab and fixing the Tabernacle roof as Dan Coffey suggests? Or should the City sell them now at all?

Talk about changing perceptions: Cleveland's District of Design


Forty years ago, the Cuyahoga River that cuts through the heart of Cleveland caught on fire for the thirteenth time. Yesterday, I mentioned to a coworker that Mrs. bluegill and I might be headed that direction soon to visit friends. Less than impressed, my coworker only curtailed her explanation of how awful Cleveland is when I explained that she actually knew the friends we're going to visit. "Well," she said, "if you're going to see them."

Dates and plans are yet to be finalized but we will, in fact, be going to see them. Lots of them. Despite Cleveland's decades-long reputation for nastiness, somebody was smart enough to recognize its assets AND to formally announce a collaborative plan to capitalize on them in an effort to attract like-minded people.

We are those people.

The high-level objective of the District of Design Project is to define Cleveland as the product design capital of the US…the Milan of the Midwest.

Fostering a culture that values design and innovation is critical to this project and three key elements are critical to this effort: 1) creating a definable heart to the design community, 2) improving our ability to manage the creative process, and 3) raising awareness.

The District of Design takes the first step in fostering a design culture. The district is a concentrated area of Downtown Cleveland that is comprised of wholesale consumer product showrooms, design studios and the infrastructure to support world-class design and product development.

Northeast Ohio possesses many of the key ingredients to be a leader in design and innovation. By fostering a design culture, drawing on regional assets and capitalizing on the increasing design awareness, the region can position itself as a long-term leader in design and innovation. This emphasis will result in top-line revenue growth that will strengthen the regional economy.




So, regardless of how far along they actually are in realizing their vision, sometime in the near future we'll be spending time and money in the blocks above looking to find not only innovative design or redevelopment strategies to steal but little bits of ourselves as well. It's almost as if we want to identify with something and they know it.

Agreed upon message : Identified target : Intended result : Shazam.