Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Century of Resistance

In February 1908, in a now-defunct newspaper named the Kentucky Irish American published an article titled "Oppose the Hospital". In the article, it was revealed that the site had been chosen for the county's new tuberculosis hospital. People in the area and on the paper's staff were not thrilled that it was to be located in - tada- Southwestern Louisville.

Here is the article:

Oppose the Hospital
The residents of this county in the
neighborhood of Valley Station have
entered a protest against the erection
of the Tuberculosis Hospital on
the proposed site. A tract of 127
acres has been purchased and work
on the hospital was about to begin.
Steps are now about to be taken to
secure an injunction to prevent its

We all know what the result of that effort was. Thanks to the Library of Congress, you can read the article and see the context in which it was printed by clicking HERE.

The residents in this area have withstood 100 years of projects that were unwanted in the backyards of other communities. We have won some and lost some. This is a time in history to which we have an obligation to finally fight "for" improvements instead of "against" bad projects that no one else wants. Take this message to the mayor at 6:30pm Monday, November 17th at Pleasure Ridge Park High School. Make it a positive argument for positive change in Southwest Louisville.

Don't be a uninformed reactionary. Know your facts, and demand good development now!

Southwest Beautification - Project Idea #3

Here is a view of Dixie Highway between the intersections of Pages Lane and Johnsontown Road, looking south. The trees and other growth around the tracks hide speed limit and bus stop signs. A few years ago, all the growth was ripped out and trees were trimmed. It gave a clean appearance, but still lacked something that made it pleasing to look at.

The object would not be to hide the railroad tracks, but to find a way to incorporate them in a plan that makes this area more appealing to the eye and more accessible to pedestrians or bus riders. Walking down this side of Dixie is highly unrecommended.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Southwest Beautification - Project Idea #2

This hidden gem is a real delight. Gravel, gravel everywhere. This mess is located just northeast of the railroad tracks on Valley Station Road, near Dixie Highway. It looks as though railroad employees may need access to part of this small area, but I do not know for sure. Still, a prime example of space that can be cleaned up and improved.

In between this area and Jigg's Produce is a small, ratty-looking building that has housed everything from a barbershop to an "I-eBay-it for-you" store. An A1 candidate for the wrecking ball. How about this one?

Mayor Community Conversation - District 12

Louisville – District 12 will play host to the last Mayor’s Community Conversation of 2008 at Pleasure Ridge Park High School on Monday, November 17th.
“It is always a nice to welcome the Mayor and Metro Government to the District,” says Councilman Rick Blackwell (D-12). “I want to encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to let Metro Government know what your concerns.”
The Mayor’s Community Conversation will begin at 6:30pm. Pleasure Ridge Park High School is located at 5901 Greenwood Road.
Joining Blackwell will be Council President Jim King (D-10) and Council members Judith Green (D-1), Vicki Aubrey Welch (D-13), Bob Henderson (D-14) and Marianne Butler (D-15).
The Councilman is combining his regular District 12 Dialogue for the month of November with the Mayor’s event.
“Metro Government is here to provide services and solve problems,” says Blackwell. “The mayor and the Council are reading to talking with anyone about an area of concern that we need to be aware of not only for Southwest Jefferson County but for all of Metro Louisville.”
For more information about the Mayor’s Community Conversation call Metro Call at 311 or 574-5000.

Southwest Beautification - Project Idea #1

This is but one of the many places I have identified in Southwest Louisville that desperately needs investment. There are more, but we can start here.

This picture was taken just before election day. The property is in a high-profile location at the northeast corner of Stonestreet Road and Dixie Highway. The lot has looked this way for several years. I think it was a gas station at one time. It is a space commonly used by folks selling knockoff Reeboks, bootleg sunglasses or those damned "Velvet Elvis" pictures. Most of the time you can find a beat-up car for sale there.

What would you like to see here?

J-Town Sewer Meeting - No Flash, No Bang

Evidently, no TV media thought the MSD meeting at the Jeffersontown Fire Station was worth covering. The Courier-Journal skipped it. Again. So did Bud Schardein. But Rick Redding from The 'Ville Voice was there. Read his account of the story HERE.

There is one last "informal"meeting on the subject November 20th at the East Government Center, 200 Juneau Road . Then the big shindig December 2nd at MSD Headquarters.

If you want to say anything at the official hearing at MSD Headquarters, you must contact them first, or you will not be allowed to speak. All of that information is HERE.

Again, if you want or need help writing a letter pertaining to this issue, let me know. The deadline is 5pm, December 5th.

Valley Station Area Business Association

I have received some questions from readers regarding the Valley Station Area Business Association. As far as I can tell, the group is no longer in operation. I did find a website but it looks as though it has not been updated in quite some time. Contact information and board members follows, although it seems to be obsolete:

Susan Baugh
Address: PO Box 72029 Valley Station KY 40272
Office: 933-0029

Kelly Brewer
Address: 8903 Thixton Lane Louisville KY 40229
Office: 560-6012

President: Kelly Brewer (6/00)
Vice President: Ray Paulin (6/99)
Secretary: Patti Lynn (6/99)
Treasurer: Paul Davis (6/00)

Board of Directors:
Susan Baugh (6/00)
Theta Dixon (6/99)
Patti Bowles (6/00)
Norm Trimer (6/00)
Becky Prow (6/00)
Vera Sanders (6/99)
Kathy Wilson (6/00)

The Pleasure Ridge Park area has a business association and a nice website, which can be seen HERE.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Congratulations, Earl

Valley Station resident Earl Yocum will be honored Saturday with the Mayor's "Good Neighbor" award. Today's Courier-Journal had the story.

An Excerpt:

Yocum, a 64-year-old Army veteran, has for years mowed and maintained properties for elderly and disabled neighbors.

This Saturday, Yocum, who lives in the Pendleton Road area, will be among 28 people honored for their community spirit with a Mayor's Good Neighbor Award.

While Yocum acknowledges planting gardens, clearing gutters and doing countless other chores for others, he said the honor is a complete surprise.

"I do help out a lot of people, but I was shocked to hear that I'd won," he said. "I just try to help people, because the truth is that many of them just can't afford to pay."

A Word About This Website

Before we continue, let me say something about this website.

We face many serious problems in Southwest Louisville. I am attempting to provide a service to help keep residents informed, and thus intend to keep the discussion about the issues serious. I also may include my opinion on issues. If you do not agree, that is fine and is acceptable. There is room here for everyone. Your comments are encouraged and appreciated.

Abusive or foul comments will not be allowed to remain posted. Comments that I deem to be personal attacks will not stand.

For a very select few, I must remind you that this is not a playground. Conduct yourselves as adults, and everything will be fine. For everyone else, please continue as you were, and I appreciate your interest as we move forward, and bring attention to the wants and needs of our community.

All the Best,
Brian Tucker

MSD Meeting in Jeffersontown Tonight

MSD is conducting another meeting on the Project WIN proposal tonight at 6:00 p.m. at the Jeffersontown Fire Department, 10540 Watterson Trail.

Any residents in Southwest Louisville that have the time may want to travel to J-Town tonight to see what goes on.

I also ran across a Courier-Journal article from 2006 that outlines a plan to address the capacity issue in Jeffersontown to be relieved by sending sewage to the Floyd's Fork station. This action was not mentioned by Bud Schardein as an alternative at the meeting Monday in Southwest Louisville. It includes construction of a 4 mile pipeline, opposed to a 40 mile one.

You can view the C-J article from 2006, hosted on the Metro Chamber of Commerce website HERE.

Also, from Leo Weekly's Stephen George comes a report on MSD's crazy legal expenses. It is a good one. Read it HERE.

Warning Siren at Kenwood Elementary Still Destroyed

After the September 14 windstorm, not only were trees and homes left heavily damaged, the wind also destroyed the Emergency Warning Siren at Kenwood Elementary School. A map of the locations of sirens throughout the city can be seen HERE.

The siren warns residents outdoors at the time of severe weather, train derailments and chemical spills. The rail line running parallel to Old Third Street Road poses a similar threat, as evidenced by the train derailment in Bullitt County not so long ago. Some dead heads in city government are now saying there are no plans to replace the siren at its existing location but to move it further north. If this move happens, the Iroquois area will be left vulnerable.

If the Kenwood siren is not replaced, it will leave a gaping hole in coverage for the Iroquois Community.

Call or email Councilman Doug Hawkins today, and ask him to get busy on a real public safety issue. He can be reached at 574-1125 or by clicking HERE.

Update, 1:10pm: Scott Harrington from the office of Doug Hawkins just called. They are in a meeting with Emergency Management right now over the siren issue.

Update, 5:40pm: I was planning on hearing back from Mr. Harrington, but as of now I have not. More tomorrow.

Update, 11/13/2008, 2:04pm: I never heard back from Scott Harrington, the Legislative Assistant in Doug Hawkins' office. I emailed him this morning and reminded him I was waiting on the results of the meeting with Emergency Management. I guess the media wasn't interested, thus this result. Chalk up another Hawkins failure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Southwest Community Association of Neighborhoods

Following the outrageous meeting Monday night over the MSD proposal, I started thinking: Why hasn't there been a formal organization put together to be one uniting voice for the community that would address issues such as these? You know, some sort of neighborhood association that may have a bit more pull than 200 screaming maniacs in an unventilated courtroom.

My search led me to something called the Southwest Community Association of Neighborhoods, or SCAN. Founded by Southwest resident Diana Newton in 2000, SCAN's mission is "to improve the quality of life, the environment and the general welfare of the Southwest Louisville Metro area and its residents".

I read through the association's website, hoping to find some signs of recent activity. Surely something on such a grand scale would be utilized to benefit residents in this fight. I read further into the mission statement: "Providing information and education on issues of interest to the community including zoning, development, health and safety; Promoting improved infrastructure, appropriate land use and economic development and responsible use of public funds; Encouraging communication and cooperation among residents of neighborhoods throughout the area; Encouraging residents to work together through neighborhood organizations and Engaging in other charitable and educational activities."

After being founded in 2000 SCAN was incorporated in 2003 and finally established as a 501-(c)-3 charitable/educational organization "focusing on neighborhood improvement" in 2007.

I found out through that Diana Newton, founder of SCAN, works as a staff assistant for Metro Councilman Doug Hawkins (R-25), and was a candidate for the Louisville Metro Council's 14th District in 2004.

An Aside: According to the Internal Revenue Service, organizations with a 501-c-3 classification are prohibited from conducting political campaign activities to influence elections to public office, but they are permitted to conduct a limited amount of lobbying to influence legislation. Although the law states that "no substantial part" of a public charity's activities may be devoted to lobbying, charities with very large budgets may lawfully expend a million dollars or more per year on lobbying. All 501(c)(3) organizations are also permitted to educate individuals about issues or fund research that supports their political position as long as they don't overtly advocate for a position on a specific bill.

The way I understand the law, (and I may be wrong), officers or directors of a 501(c)(3) cannot participate in a candidate's campaign for elective office.

By law, this organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ and they are obligated to give you a copy if you ask.

It looks as if this organization has either folded or is not filing reports with the IRS. One thing is for sure, it is not improving the welfare of the citizens of Southwest Louisville. That is a shame, because an organization dedicated to these principals is badly needed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Extreme Behavior at Southwest Government Center

Over 200 people jammed a courtroom at an overheated Southwest Government Center on Dixie Highway tonight, seeking answers and demanding that MSD find alternatives to its proposal to pump sewage from Jeffersontown to the waste water treatment facility in Southwestern Louisville. Mostly angry and whipped into some sort of frenzied lather, the crowd became vocal after MSD Executive Director Bud Schardein started the meeting off by criticizing Chris Theineman for passing out literature. The literature in question was dismissed as "flatly false" and "propaganda" by Schardein, who was visibly pissed off. Bud seemed to be backed into a corner, and was irked at the idea that people actually showed up for the "presentation". There were some valid questions and some strong suggestions that MSD should look at other ways to address the waste water capacity problem, all of which made perfect sense. There was much shouting, and people crammed the doorways with necks craned to hear all the ruckus. Those in attendance repeated their belief that a decision had already been made, to which Schardein replied, "No decision has yet been made". Wild laughter ensued.

There was heavy anger directed toward the conspicuously absent Mayor, affectionately dubbed "King Jerry" by attendees . WAVE-3 was the only television station that did not bother to send a reporter. The Courier-Journal also ignored the story, which I believe to be inexcusable. I contacted every reporter from every department that had an interest in the story, yet the paper saw fit to act as though the meeting contained nothing worth reporting.

The action that residents seek can be accomplished in a thoughtful way, such as writing letters against any measure that would indeed send sewage from the East Side to Valley Station. You will not get what you want if you only fall prey to someone's personal agenda. It is essential that this is done correctly.

If you need assistance in drafting a letter outlining your opposition to the plan, please let me know. I will gladly help all of you get letters to the appropriate officials, something that wasn't offered by any of the "leaders" present tonight. We, as citizens, have a right to be heard and our efforts will not go unnoticed if we do it correctly. Again, please let me know if I can help.

Rick Redding@ The 'Ville Voice has an excellent take on the meeting. Read his account HERE.
Ed Springston @ Louisville News and Politics also has the story. Read Ed HERE.

Stop The Surge of Sewage TONIGHT!

In the 1970's, residents of Southwestern Jefferson County saw the arrival of a coal-fired power plant. Ever since, the area has become a favorite dumping ground for local government. In the late 1980's and 1990's, locals had to organize to stop hazardous waste incineration in Kosmosdale and put a stop to the relocation of slaughterhouses to the neighborhood, among other issues. Now the people are being called upon again to defend their community against a surge of raw sewage from Eastern Louisville.

Tonight at 6pm, at the Southwest Metro Government Center on Dixie Highway, MSD officials will be on hand to discuss their short-sighted and disastrous plan to convert a waste water treatment plant in Jeffersontown into a pumping station and build a 40 mile pipeline to send raw sewage to Southwest Louisville's treatment facility. This policy must not be allowed to become reality.

MSD's plan is expensive, and we will be expected to pay for it while Executive Director Bud Schardein collects his $175,000 salary. In 2006, Schardein said "We have four or five alternatives to accomplish this..."

From 2000 to 2003, MSD invested $600,000 of your green dollars on noise and odor abatement in the Jeffersontown treatment facility. You may view the improvements HERE.

It is our responsibility to see that MSD exercises fair judgment, and chooses one of the many alternate plans in order to build an efficient infrastructure that serves all parts of Metro Louisville, rather than relying on Southwest Louisville to, once again, shoulder the burden.

By using nearly all the excess capacity at the Southwest treatment plant, MSD is stifling future growth for us, while opening up new development on the East side.

Bring a neighbor or a friend, and I'll see you there at 6pm.