Parking Headache in the Heart of The Highlands
Last month’s Highlander included a tête-à-tête in the “From Our Readers” section regarding Sherwood Avenue residents who, on the Monday morning of a routine city street cleaning, parked in the lot reserved for Scorpio Interiors and had their cars towed.
After calling Sherwood Avenue home for nearly six years, I felt the exchange between Ms. Salsburg and Mr. Wolfe (owner, Scorpio Interiors) was, on the face of things, a pair of compelling arguments. (Un)neighborliness aside, perhaps a third entity is culpable. The City of Louisville might recognize that Sherwood Avenue is too clogged an artery for street cleaning, even during the workweek.
Sherwood serves as a popular cut-through connecting Bardstown Road to Cherokee Road. The half-mile strip from (my favorite) Old Town Liquors to the park holds over 100 residential buildings and multiplex apartments. Census data shows that to be nearly 1,000 people, and if even half those people have vehicles, that leaves about 5.2 feet per driver to park his ride – which is great if you drive half a car. Those who have driveways and rear parking spaces might not fuss about street cleaning, but on waste collection day, they encounter an 18-ton garbage truck barricade to their alleyway exit at 7:30 a.m., stifling their morning commute.
This quandary reminds me of the first month I lived on Sherwood in 2003, when I called Public Works and Assets to make a request. After much deflection and redirection through the usual channels, I found a human being who would listen: a career city employee who had endured his fill of asinine complaints and entreaties, and was so beyond despondence and disillusionment that it seemed he took time to listen to us bellyache for his own amusement. I asked what kind of petition we needed for speed bumps on Sherwood. A concerned group of neighbors knew that motorists blaze down this road, in spite of kids playing on skateboards and dozens of collared outdoor house cats who would shoot across the road at night. I like animals.
The city man laughed heartily. “Sherwood Avenue? Shit,” he squawked, “That’s the narrowest and most populated street this side of Broadway!”
It was ridiculous and pansy-assed, I knew, but in that first month I’d seen one dead cat on the street and inherited two homeless ones of my own. The idea that if they broke free of my tiny loft apartment only to be squished by someone speeding at 50 mph with no room to swerve was unthinkable.
The city guy was congenial, but his tone of futility was clear. He dismissed the idea – I was just another nameless caller who didn’t want to see more household road kill in his future. It felt equivalent to dropping a handwritten slip of paper in a suggestion box at the House of Representatives.
The communication gap between citizen and government is age old and obvious. Besides, this is about street cleaning and the $115 towing fees on that Monday morning, plus unnumbered headaches.
Street cleaning is a commendable tax-funded service and many of our streets in the Metro area are notably filthy. But is this service another obligatory, mechanical part of the bureaucratic engine? And how genuinely concerned is the city with keeping our streets clear of debris?
Interestingly, it took nearly three months to remove the carcass of a car that burned to the ground on Sherwood Avenue after a fallen live power line struck it during the unprecedented ice storm last January. Within a half hour, the sparking wire melted the entire Celica to a husk from the tires up – a war zone image, a lasting, eerie memento that remained on the street until April, and no parking enforcement officer hung a ticket on its crispy, black skeleton. What quantity of trash, leaves and scorched automobile remains are intolerable, or acceptable?
What to propose? Street cleaning citation amnesty? A friend and neighbor of mine mentioned the “long overdue idea of alternate-side street cleaning” – west side on Wednesday, east side on Thursday – something like that. Surely, residents who live near Scorpio Interiors have options outside of scavenging for a spot two blocks from their house on a street running the opposite direction.
And if the city is unwilling or unable to offer a solution – or hold a conversation between citizens and administrators – it’s good to know that a street cleaning violation costs about one-fifth the price of having your car towed by a local entrepreneur hawking over his back parking lot.
– Chris James Bayer, Germantown
Incident on Boulevard Napoleon
I live on Boulevard Napoleon, and on Friday, November 7, at approximately 12:30 a.m., I witnessed two men walking down the street, checking to see if there was anything interesting inside the cars parked on the street, and also checking to see if they were locked. Looked pretty suspicious to me!
I did call the police and in less than 10 minutes I saw two cruisers. I did go out and talk to an officer and gave him a description and told him what happened.
Everyone who parks on the street just needs to make sure they lock their cars and not leave anything valuable behind!
– Amy Kunzler, 40205
Taking a Stand
As I spoke last summer with hundreds of residents about the Edgehill Road development proposal concerning the historic property located in the Highlands-Douglass neighborhood, I was struck by the cynicism toward local government. “You can’t fight city hall” people would tell me, many with obvious pain on their faces. I had phone calls and e-mails from people I had never met telling me how “the city” had passed proposals that ruined their property despite opposition. And all the while, it never occurred to me that the injustices bestowed upon so many would also be imposed upon me. naïve and determined, I thought my quest was different; after all, I was trying to protect a historic property and I followed the city’s procedures to a tee. Unfortunately, after what I‘ve experienced, I, too, am suspicious and skeptical about local government and worry that, as citizens, our voices will never be heard.
On November 19, 2009, the Planning Commission approved the Edgehill Road development proposal despite arguments that it violates several aspects of the Highlands-Douglass Neighborhood Plan. While I’m certain that the Planning Commission can cobble together the means to justify their decision, submitting a petition containing 360 signatures from residents requesting that the proposal be minimized did nothing to persuade them. A final decision will be made some time early this year by Metro Council. The Highlands, i.e., the 8th District, however, will not be represented, as Councilman Owen has elected to recuse himself from the proceedings. He will neither be present nor vote on the rezoning decision.
While I can’t say I feel confident that Metro Council will vote to minimize the proposal, I am hopeful that the desperate measures taken by Planning & Design Services to demean my efforts and the unprofessionalism and lack of objectivity they demonstrated throughout this process are not repeated by our elected officials. Surely, some sort of decorum will prevail and the decisions made will be based upon factual information.
It’s unsettling that this historic property will lose much of its original design and that the neighborhood identity will be altered forever should this proposal be passed. It’s clear to me that, as a community, we’ve lost our appreciation for history and have forgotten our obligations as citizens. We have given up. We no longer question authority and we accept what is handed to us, whether we like it or not. The process is too taxing and we are tired.
This year, why not resolve to stand up for the community? Why not get involved with your neighborhood association? Read your neighborhood plan. Speak with your councilperson. Call 311 and let the Mayor know how you feel about the issues happening in the community. Demand justice and due process.
Whether we realize it or not, everything that happens in our community affects us all. Unless we take a stand, suspicions and skepticism will prevail. It’s pointless to complain about the problems; getting involved and finding solutions is so much more productive. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned throughout this process, it’s that you might not always get what you want, but you’ll never regret trying and, for many, living without regret is the ultimate achievement. It may not always be easy, but nothing worth fighting for ever is. Happy New Year!
– Shellie Nitsche, 40205
Suicide Rate in Question
I write to challenge something Carl Brown wrote in the December issue of The Highlander. He wrote: “Did you know that we have lost more American soldiers ordered to re-up to suicide than we have by enemy hands in Iraq and Afghanistan?”
My search of the facts showed that in 2008, 128 soldiers and 41 Marines committed suicide, 30% while deployed and 35% after returning from deployment. In 2008, 314 soldiers died in combat in Iraq and 151 in Afghanistan.
The military rate of suicide was 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers, while the civilian rate was just slightly lower at 19.5 per 100,000 civilians.
– Ralph Koslik, 2229 Cherokee Parkway, 40204
Carl Brown Drivel
First off, let me say that I really enjoy receiving your paper. It’s great to read about local events and activities in an area of town that I love.
I felt compelled to comment, however, regarding the article on page 11 of the December issue by Carl Brown which casts somewhat of a negative pall over the publication. With very little fact-checking, your editors have easily dismissed the wild assertions by him in this piece of fiction.
First off, one would be hard pressed to call what Major Hasan did “death by military,” as he attacked UNARMED soldiers with the intent of murdering as many as possible. Folks who elect “suicide by cop” choose this option as a method of death not to see how many ARMED police officers they can kill, but rather it is their hope that the police will end his/her life. The motivations are completely different. Furthermore, it was a police officer, not anyone in the military, that finally ended this man’s rampage.
I must admit that I wouldn’t have written you about the above silliness, but the concluding sentence in his first section was completely erroneous and inane at best. Your editors shouldn’t have printed: “we have lost more American soldiers ordered to re-up to suicide than we have by enemy hands in Iraq and Afghanistan.” That statement only holds true for the month of January 2009. It is true that the suicide rates among soldiers have escalated over the term of the wars and that the army now has roughly the same suicide rate as the civilian American population. Since 2003, there have been roughly 689 suicides in the army. Combat deaths (not counting non-hostile deaths in theater) during the wars stands at 4,142. Obviously, his statement is completely false. Also, no one in the military can be “ordered to re-up.” We have an all-volunteer force and re-enlisting cannot and is not ever ordered.
Mr. Brown has some pretty strange ideas, but that’s okay – diversity in our community is one of the things I love most about the Highlands. While difference in opinions is fine, intentionally twisting “facts” and having them printed for all to read is not. It is a disservice to those that are defending our first amendment rights at home and abroad.
– Jason Karlen, 40204
Editor’s Note: We apologize to readers for not properly fact checking the comments made in Carl Brown’s December column regarding military suicide. Carl addresses the above letters in his column.