Familiar faces seek 5th District seat on Lexington council

District issues include public safety, sewers

bfortune@herald-leader.comOctober 24, 2010 

  • Bill Farmer

    Birthdate: July 22, 1959

    Residence: 549 Culpepper Road

    Occupation: owner, Farmer's Jewelry

    Cheryl Feigel

    Birthdate: Aug. 31, 1947

    Residence: 301 Colony Boulevard

    Occupation: Retired

Two familiar names with experience on the Urban County Council will be on the ballot for 5th District representative Nov. 2.

Bill Farmer Jr., a five-term council member — from 1996 to 2006 — is running to get back his old seat. Incumbent Cheryl Feigel is seeking a second term.

Farmer's top issues include public safety and improving storm and sanitary sewers.

Feigel is working on a redesign of the intersection of East High Street and Euclid Avenue to make it safer for pedestrians and automobiles.

The 5th District, inside New Circle Road between Winchester and Tates Creek roads, is home to some of the city's older, walkable neighborhoods, including Chevy Chase and Ashland Park.

Farmer, 51, has not strayed far from the district, where he was born and attended elementary, junior high and high school. He graduated from the University of Kentucky. In 1983, he went to work full time in his family business, Farmer's Jewelry.

Farmer says he will work to improve public safety by making sure a police officer attends each neighborhood meeting in the district.

"If we connect to our police force better, we can make sure our neighborhoods are safer," he said.

In January, the city began collecting a water-quality management fee to upgrade and improve storm sewers. Farmer wants some of that money channeled into the 5th District, which has "horribly old sewers with misconnected, disconnected pipes."

Although Feigel was born in Cincinnati, she calls herself a native Kentuckian. Her parents were visiting Cincinnati when she was born.

Feigel, 63, was raised in Lynch in Harlan County and moved to Lexington to attend UK.

She returned to Lexington about nine years ago after two decades in Connecticut and Texas. She was mayor and a city council member in Colleyville, Texas.

Many issues facing Lexington are familiar to Feigel because she had training on them while she was on the Colleyville council, she said.

Feigel helped hammer out an agreement between Eastern Little League and Shade land East Neighborhood Association over the use of Ecton Park. She announced the settlement at Thursday night's council meeting.

Feigel proposed redesigning the High Street intersection with Euclid Avenue and Fontaine Road and has held two dozen meetings with district residents and business owners to solicit ideas and keep them apprised of work. Plans call for shrinking the intersection and adding medians for safer pedestrian crossings, trees, rain gardens and benches.

When first elected, Feigel pledged to work to get Maryland-based Saul Centers to either redevelop or sell Lexington Mall, property it has owned since 1974. The mall has been vacant since Dillard's left in 2005.

She called Saul once a month for a year and a half to ask about their plans, she said.

Early in the summer, a Saul representative called Feigel and told her the company was considering an offer from Southland Christian Church. The church ended up buying the property.

Feigel also has worked with the neighborhood association that contacted her about the run-down condition of Sonnet Cove apartment complex on Lake Tower Drive. "I've been working with that neighborhood association and code enforcement to bring that property up to code," she said.

The complex is in receivership. Once improvements to the property have been completed, the bank holding the mortgage will put it up for sale, Feigel said.

Whichever candidate is elected will deal with issues broader than ones in District 5. Two of those include possible design guidelines for downtown and whether the city's golf courses should be financially self-sustaining.

"I absolutely am in favor of design guidelines," Feigel said.

Farmer said guidelines are "a great idea."

Golf courses are a legitimate recreational service the city should provide, "like swimming pools, tennis courts and dog parks," Feigel said. "That doesn't mean we can't be more accountable for the taxpayer's dollar."

Farmer supports city-owned courses, saying they improve residents' quality of life, and many high school golf teams play the public courses.

Reach Beverly Fortune at (859) 231-3251 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3251.

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