The Old Louisville
Journal

Volume 22, Issues 10 & 11
Volume 23, Issue 1
January 2001

Page 1

Chair Notes

Letters to the Editor

5th District Police Study

St. James Art  Show

Community Events

Property Improvement

Zoning and Land Use

Etcetera

Sponsors

Old Louisville Information Center
1240 S. Fourth St—In Central Park
Louisville, KY 40208

Phone (502) 635-5245
 E-mail: OLIC@Oldlouisville.org

 

Letters to the Editor

 The following do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor, or the editorial stance of the paper. We will print letters of general interest to old Louisville as space allows. Letters should be as concise and to the point as possible. We reserve the right to edit if space limitations force us to do so. No letters will be published anonymously, or under an assumed name.

Ninth Street Extension
Issues

Now that construction on the 9thStreet Extension is about to begin, it has once again become a hot topic in Old Louisville. Some very serious questions about traffic are being raised, but it seems that the Council, rather than attempt to answer questions, wishes to avoid the entire issue.

Many of the current residents of Old Louisville, most of whom have invested considerable time and money to restore their homes, were not here decades ago when the planning of this project began. Many of us have heard that the 9th Street Extension will extend south of Old Louisville to carry traffic around us. Many have heard that a traffic plan will be developed as part of this project, including truck routes to reduce truck traffic in Old Louisville. And many believe that this is about to happen.

But some of us have looked at the route, the drawings, and the proposed changes to one-way streets and find it impossible to believe that this project, since it does not extend beyond old Louisville and does not include a traffic plan, will accomplish any of the things we were told. In fact, based upon the new traffic patterns that will be created, many believe exactly the opposite will occur. I have asked repeatedly for reasonable discussion of the issues arising from this plan and have, in each case, been "sandbagged."

This is a project that will affect traffic across all of Old Louisville and will have major effects on our neighborhood. It is time that the residents be shown the full picture and be given full and honest answers to their questions. In the name of the residents of Old Louisville, I am requesting that the Council hold a public meeting with a small panel of people to discuss the positive and negative aspects of this project.

Gary J. Kleier, 40203

Editor's Note: Dick Callaway, Chair of the OLNC was given the opportunity to respond.

For the record, the Ninth Street Extension issue has been discussed and debated by the. OLNC at least since 1978. Official positions have been taken several times. Though they were always generally favorable to the project, they included stipulations. The most recent position prior to this year was in 1993. It stressed, in a letter to Bill Herron, Director of the City Department of Public Works, that noise abatement measures and visual screening must be part of the project; that the Myrtle Ave. ramp had to be designed so as not to direct commercial traffic through the neighborhood; and that the neighborhood must be kept informed of all progress and be invited to meet with Mr. Herron and the project's design team until all concerns had been satisfactorily resolved.

The issue was revisited in the OLNC board meetings (with members of the public in attendance) of September 26, October 24, and November 28, 2000, as well as in the Council's Property Improvement Committee meeting of September 14 (with over 60 people attending). At the September 26 meeting, two new motions regarding the project were passed. The first asked the neighborhood associations for their positions on banning truck traffic (other than local delivery) from the area between Broadway and Cardinal Blvd., and Seventh Street and 1-65. At press time, no association had reported its opposition (one association had reported its opposition to the project as a whole).

The second motion directed the Council to write Mr. Herron and the Kentucky Department of Transportation asking that they address the neighborhood's concerns with truck traffic generated by the project, and specifically with concerns about the Seventh St. viaducts' ability to handle all traffic moving from Ninth to Seventh, and vice versa. This was done, with emphasis placed on improving the viaducts in whatever manner necessary, and adding that a satisfactory plan for traffic (re)routing during construction needed to be designed and implemented.

Also, a motion was passed at the October 24 meeting that reaffirmed the Council's support of its 1993 position. This motion passed with six association chairs in support and two opposed. This position also has been communicated to Mr. Herron, the State, and the Mayor.

One additional motion passed at this meeting. It asked the Zoning and Land use Committee to review the effect of the Ninth St. project and make a recommendation to the Council for improving traffic flow and for reducing truck traffic in the neighborhood. This motion was, in fact, made by Gary Kleier, after withdrawing a motion that an ad hoc committee be appointed for the purpose. Acting on this motion would appear consistent with Mr. Kleier's above request to hold a public meeting (any OLNC meeting is public, unless it is a board meeting dealing with personnel matters, real estate transfers, or legal actions). The Journal will keep all subscribers informed on this matter.

Dick Callaway, OLNC Chair

Support for Shakespeare

Editor's note: The following letter is reprinted from last month's issue, this time with a response from OLNC Chair Dick Callaway.

One night this past summer, a member of our acting company met a young family. The mother, a native Louisvillian, has been coming to our free productions since her father introduced her to the world of Mr. Shakespeare at the tender age of eight. As a parent, she wanted her children to have the same childhood experience, but there is no free summer Shakespeare in St. Louis. And so each year the family drives four hours to enjoy our free performances in Old Louisville's Central Park. Thus a family tradition is born, nurtured and carried on to the next generation. It has been that way for 40 years.

I am proud to announce that our 40th anniversary season was a huge public success. Gorgeous weather and wonderful productions of Romeo and Juliet, and Twelfth Night combined to bring 42% more audience members to the heart of Old Louisville's Preservation District.

That's the good news. The bad news is that we have a financial crisis on our hands. We are nearing the end of our fiscal year and still must raise $25,000. Each year, 90% of the summer operating budget must be raised through donations. We exist only through the generosity and support of organizations like yours. Our 2000 summer season cost $150,000 to produce. If we had charged a ticket price, it would have been $12.37 per person.

We need your help. Funding from the Old Louisville Neighborhood Associations has dwindled from an all time height of $5,051 in 1996 to this season's $1,125. That's almost a 500% decrease over the past five years. We can't sustain such financial hits.

Of this year's $1,125, Garvin Gate, Second Street, and Third Street matched their previous donations-thank you. 1300 South Third Street matched their previous donation thank you. 1300 South Third Street increased its previous donation by 67%---a hearty thank you. St. James Court reduced its previous donations by 1200% and the Old Louisville Council, Belgravia, Central Park West, Fourth Street, Limerick, and Toonerville, all of whom have previously donated, gave nothing.

Our commitment to Old Louisville has not diminished. Why has your support?

I hope that this is simply an oversight on your part and that you will send us your donation immediately. If this is not an oversight, and you have issues and/or concerns about our festival, I welcome your contacting me directly. I would be delighted to attend one of your monthly meetings.

I know money is tight and there is no easy way to support all the deserving causes that must come to your attention. I ask you to please remember that the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in Old Louisville. Over the past forty years, we have provided free Shakespeare to over 500,000 people. Your dollars will help keep our Festival alive into the next millennium.

Ask yourself: What other summer event brought 12,126 people to Old Louisville?

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please help us continue the gift of free Shakespeare. Your support will make all the difference.

Curt L. Tofteland
Producing Director, Shakespeare in Central Park

(Webmaster note:  the Shakespeare in Central Park Web Site may be found at http://www.kyshakes.org.  The reply follows:)


The Old Louisville Neighborhood Council is gratified that Curt Tofteland has taken the time to bring KSF's concerns to our attention. Certainly, we want to see Shakespeare continue in Central Park for another 40 years - and beyond. Since Mr. Tofteland addressed us in an open letter, I felt that was the fairest way to respond, and that the fairest format would be to reprint his letter, so that it and my response could stand side-by-side. The following remarks are intended in a spirit of friendship and comity and in the hope that we can have a stronger relationship than ever. I sincerely hope they will be accepted in that spirit.

My first thought is that other contributions must have dropped as well, if there is a $25,000 shortfall. Using Mr. Tofteland's own figures, our contributions have declined by $4,000 over the last four years. To be sure that is a precipitous drop, particularly since it does represent a 500% decrease. But it would suggest to me that other contributors may have followed a similar path. I'm mentioning this not to point fingers at other donors, but to suggest that a marketing problem might be involved. No one asked me for a contribution.

I hope that doesn't sound disingenuous. Of course,  I know Shakespeare is going on right out side our doors. Of course, I know it takes money to keep it going, but, sometimes I am too busy (or just too dense) to put two and two together without others' help. I am new in this job this year and so is my staff - (I believe, incidentally, that this is the first time since OLNC's beginning, twenty-five years ago, that this has been the case.) I did have this job fifteen years ago, but I do not remember making any philanthropic decisions without staff help at that time.

By the same token, several of the neighborhood associations you mention have new leadership. Some of these also have very little money on hand - probably less than the Council has. This is not to say they couldn't spare something for a good cause, but I'm sure you would agree with me that even well-heeled organizations (and individuals) seldom offer contributions with no encouragement at all. If I have learned anything in over thirty years of raising funds and working with volunteers, it is that people not only need to be asked, they like to be asked. There have been times that I had very little money, yet made a donation, because I was flattered that someone thought I could help.

If I may continue a bit further in this vein, it seems to me that any organization that is a good steward of its finances should always ask, "Of what benefit is this to our organization or our neighborhood?" You may think the answer to this is obvious, but it may not be to everyone. Again, it goes back to marketing. And to understanding that everyone has demands on their time and money, and that no one likes to be taken for granted.

You say your commitment to Old Louisville has not diminished. Perhaps not. But perhaps that commitment does need to be redefined. How many years have we heard that you might be leaving our neighborhood? Your board has talked for a number of years about other locations, e.g. the grounds of the Louisville Visual Art Association. When Steve Henry was "A" District County Commissioner, he wanted you, if I recall correctly, to move your performances to a quarry in his district. I do understand that if you don't watch your bottom line, no one else will. And I do appreciate that you haven't moved, that you are still here. But it would be understandable - to my mind at least - if some associations or individuals felt they had been held hostage. And I know you will agree that no one finds that a comfortable feeling.

We do appreciate the fact that Shakespeare brings people into our neighborhood. It's wonderful that your attendance was up 42% this year. I dare say Old Louisvillians accounted for at least their fair share of this. But I wonder: Have you ever included anything in your program or your curtain speech about the "special" neighborhood in which you are performing? What "press" are we getting for our "bucks?" Or are we expected to be satisfied with "feel good" contributions?

I would welcome your contacting us directly. Had this been done in the first place, this letter writing exchange might not have been necessary. However, this may have been for the best. More people have been exposed to the needs and desires of each of our organizations than ever would have been otherwise. So, I'm sure it's been healthy. That said, we would like you to come to one of our meetings so we can meet and talk with you personally. Regular communication would eventually, I think, obviate these concerns.

Again, I hope this is received in the spirit in which it is intended. We would like to see you remain in Old Louisville. We will listen to any ideas you have about how we might better support you.

Dick Callaway, OLNC Chair

 

Making A Difference

By Deborah Stewart

Some say good neighbors are hard to come by, but those of us who live in Old Louisville know better.  Good neighbors and the sense of community they engender are one of Old Louisville’s strongest attributes.  We look out for one another around here.

Take Jo Ann and Arnold Celentano.  Nearly seven years ago, they moved into a house in the 1000 block of South Third St. What they found was not pretty.

“Arnold witnessed a drug deal outside our kitchen window,” Jo Ann recalled.  “We had a back yard full of huge trees that were old and rotten on the inside.  There was a parking lot almost to our back door and everywhere there was garbage.  Whatever certain people didn’t want, they threw it out in the alley.  Syringes, liquor bottles, cigarette butts, garbage, garbage, everywhere.”

Seven years later, all of that has changed.  The garbage-infested alley is clean and was recently named in honor of Howard Poole, who has owned and operated Dizzy Whiz restaurant on the south end of the alley for the past 53 years.

The Celentano’s back yard that once provided the setting for drug deals and loitering is now a reservoir of natural beauty. Arnold and Jo Ann had the rotten trees removed and planted a flower garden.

“We let the sunshine in and the bad people just left,” Jo Ann said. “You can’t improve the quality of life when you live in garbage.  Arnold started picking up garbage and it was contagious.  Others started doing the same thing.  Then the Second Street Liquor Store closed and that was a big help.  Plus, we have great neighbors.  Baptist Towers, they are just fantastic neighbors.  They keep an eye on the alley and call if anything suspicious is going on.”

While things were improving in the alley out back of their home, a different situation was festering out front and across the street.  A former boarding house was converted to housing for men who were on medication and suffered from various physical and emotional problems.  There was no one qualified to supervise the distribution of medication and when things got out of hand, the sheriff would show up and some of these men would be taken to Central State, according to Jo Ann.

“It was so sad,” she said.  “These men would come out carrying a Kroger bag which held everything they owned and the Sheriff would haul them off.”

Jo Ann thought there had to be a better way to treat these men.  They were housed in 8’x8’ rooms.  Without proper medication, some of the men became irrational and violent.  So, she wrote the Kentucky Cabinet for Health Services and requested an investigation.  The day she mailed her letter requesting the investigation, a body was found in the basement.

“That was somebody’s son,” she said.  “He was found dead of three gun shot wounds to the chest and it was the smell that led them to the body.  He had been dead for two weeks.”

Three weeks later, another man died on the premises.  He died of natural causes, but drugs were not ruled out.  “I wrote another letter after that,” Jo Ann said, “and by that time the State Health Department had gone into the property and found in the words of their report, “roaches, feces, and mounds of debris…evidence of neglect under guardianship.”

The owner was given until August 31 to clear the building of all occupants.  No one knows quite what the next step will be, but one thing is for sure, the Celentanos are the ones we should thank for their perseverance and courage.  Good neighbors can and do make a difference.

 

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