Saturday, January 06, 2007

Few Random Stories from the River City

Today, like all this week, has been an incredibly slow news day in Louisville. But in spite of that, there were a few small stories that caught my attention.

Firstly, the city of Jeffersonville, Indiana is yet again contemplating selling land at the corner of 10th and Spring Streets directly off of Interstate 65. For those of you who don't know, this piece of land is a "gateway" into Jeffersonville and for many years has been in legal limbo. Several years ago Jeffersonville tried to sell the land to retail developers; that fell through. Then they had an AmeriSuites hotel prepared to build on the site; this time they were sued by a private citizen and that deal never came to being. Now, for a third time the city has two developers on the line, one of whom wants to build a Starbucks.

Now, the reason this story even caught my attention was because I once lived in Clark County and the piece of land in question has been an eyesore for as long as I can remember. That area is also a hodge podge of uses: industrial, retail, even some historic structures such as the newly renovated Quartermaster Depot and an older inner ring suburban neighborhood.

What really confuses me is the way Jeffersonville has, all these years, only tried to get the easiest types of developments possible for an important property in the city. To be incredibly honest, Starbucks can be built almost anywhere in Southern Indiana and do perfectly well...there are Starbucks in towns much smaller than Jeffersonville. But Hoosiers have a fascination with saying, "Look! We have ___________ too! We're just as good as Louisville!" Instead of promoting a project to compliment and enhance the urban nature of 10th and Spring, they're simply going to fill it with Starbucks and McDo. Jeffersonville surely has arrived!

Secondly, Baptist Hospital East will ban smoking on all of their property in St. Matthews. Sometimes I think that only in a place like Kentucky could it still be possible in 2007 to smoke around a hospital. Smoking has been banned inside the hospital for quite some time, but I do expect hospitals to show more leadership on health issues such as this. It is how I think having a McDonald's in Kosair Children's Hospital downtown is a bad choice. I don't think that McDo or smoking should be outlawed...but hospitals shouldn't be the place where these things are eaten or inhaled.

Third and last story is the slow way in which MetroSafe is being completed. MetroSafe is one of the mayors major initiatives from his first term in office when he was concentrating on finalizing all merger problems. MetroSafe, when completed, will finally give all first responders, from paramedics to firefights to police officers to disaster workers, all the same radios and the ability to speak to each other all across the county. This will be in the first time in the history of Jefferson County that there will be a seamless communications systems for all agencies in charge of public safety. To say the least, this is an important project for the community!

You can't blame the mayor for this latest setback, but Louisville was dropped from a federal program that grants money to urban areas for terrorism response. Granted, Louisville is not a huge target for terrorists, but this system could one day prove lifesaving to many of the 700,000 people who call Jefferson County home.

This initiative has been fermenting for four years now. As a total cost, it is 70 million dollars...which is about how much the city is prepared to give the developers of Museum Plaza or how much they spent to have the Marriott hotel built. The city simply needs to get this project completed for the good of all Louisvillians.

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