Op-Ed

Ky. Voices: Don Pratt says 'no' to wasteful arts district ideas

Don Pratt is a candidate running this spring for the council's three at-large seats, at Central Library in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, April 21, 2010. Photo by Matt Goins 9952
Don Pratt is a candidate running this spring for the council's three at-large seats, at Central Library in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, April 21, 2010. Photo by Matt Goins 9952 Lexington Herald-Leader

Lexington has to be aware of outlandish waste. Especially in hard economic times, the recent proposals for the Rupp Arena Arts and Entertainment District are not good ideas. It is not an extraordinary, inspirational conceptual vision nor even an open, creative, analytical process. Why did their "open process" delay the release of secret $500,000 study financiers?

In all actuality, Space Group's presentation is more like ideas from an ADHD adult victim high on acid presented to an elementary class schooled to cheer. Cheerleaders for consultants, developers and contractors feed egos of 5-watt leaders who want legacies. Decisionmakers will spend far more than $300 million, as other projects jump on the bandwagon in a childish mine's-better-than-yours game.

The primary architectural renderings are like the out-of-body experience of bright lights at the end of the tunnel. Why didn't they issue free three-D rose-colored glasses to show this unnecessary, impractical Rupp exterior reconstruction? I am sure paying others of us similar amounts of money could generate many better visions with fancy visuals.

Attracting tourists doesn't require such wasteful building.

I immediately reject the foolish hallucination of burying parking underground. Don't they know the cost of underground parking is insanely expensive? Town Branch to be used to wash parked cars?

The resurrection of Town Branch is not key to Lexington. Why not resurrect the low and moderate historic neighborhoods destroyed by a former mayor? Cleaning up the toxic waste, buried by another former mayor, along Town Branch would be more essential to Lexington and to all downstream.

Or, why not add Big Foot's footprints to the pretentious, unnecessary, cutesy proposed Wildcat Walk to Rupp Arena, attracting other interesting visitors? It's also heresy suggesting a Cat Walk that doesn't pass Tolly Ho or through Joe Bologna's hallway.

The plan to reroute multiple downtown streets reminds me of one mayor's faux bricks of yesteryear downtown plus fighting her closing of Vine from Main to Broadway. I know suggested street redirection should seek impartial, skilled opinions, not political special interests. Traffic movement and congestion is the issue.

The idea of a rail service hub to Louisville or Cincinnati is premature until there are federal commitments to major interstate rail improvements.

An expanded, luxury bus could immediately take many cars off interstates while increased rail freight usage could take many trucks off interstates, reducing CO2 pollution and gasoline waste.

Critical thinking would acknowledge other needs, even for visitors, to direct Lexington spending now: Improve our history museum, begin more recreational usage of the Kentucky River, start a Bluegrass home for practice/museum/performances by the American Spiritual Ensemble restoring one of the old churches, teen facilities, a large indoor Olympic swimming pool for school physical education and school swim team usage.

Bring out the creative thinkers.

I agree we may need to rethink the Civic Center internally to provide increased convention space, but probably without costly expansion. This place is beautiful and well managed, despite problems not necessarily its own. The current plans are for wasting motel tax money on an albatross no one should show off, certainly not hang proudly around their necks.

Taxpayers, citizens, influential thinkers, visitors paying hotel/motel fees and future debt payers should step to oppose this nightmarish waste and destruction of well-functioning facilities.

I hope others join in stopping this before another dime is spent.

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