Issue April 17, 2007

City Strobe

Board will decide today whether to amend STAR program
Last month’s meeting of the Metro Air Pollution Control Board wasn’t quite the snoozer that hyper-technical discussions of emissions policy tend to be.

The People were allowed to offer thoughts on the second round of proposed amendments to the city’s flagship air quality control program, one of which includes a change that would more than double the amount of toxic emissions currently allowed on industrial property under the Strategic Toxic Air Reduction (STAR) program.
The Board was set to vote on this and other less controversial amendments this morning.

“When you’re looking at it from a pure health perspective, it should not be raised,” Arnita Gadson said in an interview Monday. Gadson is director of the West Jefferson County Community Task Force and a member of the STAR Implementation Advisory Group, impaneled by Mayor Abramson last April amid businesses’ complaints that the program is too stringent and a failed General Assembly attempt to wrest authority from city governments over air quality control. That group, which recommends changes to the Air Pollution Control District but cannot dictate policy, is weighted toward business interests — 60 percent of its members represent industry.

Gadson said there’s a middle ground to be reached. The STAR standard is 4.2 cancers per million people, and this amendment would raise that to 10 for the cumulative amount of toxic emissions at a given time on industrial properties. She also noted — as a number of speakers did at last month’s hearing — that it’s foolish to believe emissions from industrial properties will remain on industrial properties, as this amendment does.
There are 12 such facilities in Rubbertown.

Matt Stull, spokesman for the Air Pollution Control District, said allowing certain businesses to emit more toxins — at this level — won’t compromise STAR’s overall positive impact.
These battle lines are nothing new: West Louisville residents have been arguing for toxic air protections since at least the 1950s. —Stephen George

Center still reaching for the stars
Commitments are slowly rolling in, but the African American Heritage Foundation still doesn’t have the money to complete its stalled museum project, now about seven years in utero. Some $17.5 million has already been spent on turning the historic Trolley Barn building at Muhammad Ali and 18th streets into the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, which will recount the entire history of Kentucky’s African Americans.
This past winter the group secured a $7 million loan from U.S. Bank on the condition it meets some requirements, including raising $5 million by the end of March.

That goal was not met, but the Foundation received an extension of about two more months. Part of the funds sought will go toward repaying $1.75 million to the state, which would speed up distribution of about $7 million in federal grant money already awarded to the center.

The group appears to be making headway in terms of other big-dollar backing. Brown-Forman Corp. made a $500,000 matching commitment toward the state debt early this month, adding to a similarly large previous donation. Daniel Hall, board chairman of the African American Heritage Foundation, said they have a commitment of a “six-figure gift” that has not yet been announced, and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth has donated $10,000 of his Congressional salary.

Foundation president Clest Lanier said a fundraising presentation in Bowling Green has led to promising contacts with people there and from surrounding cities, who she said were unaware the center concerned statewide history, not just Louisville.

It also looks like the tight squeeze and competitive fundraising environment are forcing the group to get creative. They’re planning an October event selling sports paraphernalia from famous athletes. Lanier said one of Shaquille O’Neal’s jerseys has already been secured. —Jennifer Oladipo

Comings and goings in the arts
One of the most deliciously evil roles in classical ballet is Carabosse, the wicked fairy who casts a spell on Princess Aurora in “The Sleeping Beauty.” During the Louisville Ballet’s final season performance Saturday, Delilah Smyth played the role with dramatic abandon, swirling around the stage in her black and green gown. It was the second time Smyth, 36, played the role in a company production and the last performance in her 15-year career as a company member. Louisville Ballet did not renew her contract.

At curtain call, artistic director Bruce Simpson and associate artistic director Helen Starr met Smyth onstage with a bouquet of roses. “This is the opportunity to say thank you to this wonderful, wonderful artist,” Simpson said as the crowd cheered. He indicated Smyth might be invited to return for guest appearances.

Later, Smyth described her career with the company as “amazing,” noting it gave her opportunities to work with esteemed choreographers. She said Simpson allowed her to take on extracurricular activities, including choreographing for Kentucky Opera and acting in local theater. Later this year, she will choreograph Music Theatre Louisville’s production of “Oliver!” Though unsure about the future of her career, she added that she wants to collaborate more with opera and theater companies.

Also leaving the company is David Ingram, 25. Last month he was invited to join the North Carolina Dance Theatre in Charlotte, headed by artistic director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux. The job places Ingram, who has impressed audiences with his dancing and choreography, closer to family in his hometown of Kingsport, Tenn. Last summer, he debuted Empujon, a company he formed with other dancers, including some from Louisville Ballet. He said he intends to continue working with Empujon.

Audiences can see Smyth and Ingram on May 25, when Empujon performs at 21C Museum Hotel.
Staff changes at other organizations include the departure of Kimcherie Lloyd from the Kentucky Opera, where she had been the director of music since 1999. Philip Brisson, currently director of music at the Cathedral of the Assumption and director of Indiana University Southeast’s concert choir and community chorus, takes the position next season. Actors Theatre of Louisville general manager James Roemer, who has worked with the company for 25 years, has been named director of administration for the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. ATL has named Jeff Rodgers the new general manager. —Elizabeth Kramer

If we may, “Share the Road”
The Environmental Protection Agency says driving a car is the single most polluting act an individual can commit. So last week, LEO staff writer Stephen George gave up his car in an effort to assess what kinds of changes — mental, physical, epistemological — one needs to make to lessen his carbon footprint and still navigate this city of but a single viable mode of public transit.

He’ll document the month-long gig on a new LEO blog, “Share the Road,” which you’ll find if you go to www.leoweekly.com and click on “Writers’ Blogs” on the left side of the homepage. —Staff

Update your culture all day at The Lip: LEO’s News Blog, found at www.leoweekly.com. Contact the writers at
citystrobe@leoweekly.com


Death by a thousand blows?
Death by a thousand blows?

 

On Monday, city workers painted over the pieces on the city’s “legal graffiti wall” with broad streaks of gray. As of yesterday, the wall — opened in October as the Urban Experimental Art Project, a year-long trial that allowed anyone with a can of spray paint to leave a mark — was just another underpass where graffiti is illegal.

The city decommissioned the project six months ahead of schedule, mainly because the whole “open to everyone” thing encouraged a few too many brickheads to scrawl visual garbage over the work of the real artists. And businesses, like the nearby Baer Fabrics, complained about being tagged. Metro Police told LEO last week that reports of graffiti incidents had not escalated around the wall, although they said it’s likely they’re just not being reported.

A sign hanging over the newly bland wall promises a new art project by this summer. The Mayor’s Committee on Public Art is discussing what might come next underneath the East Market overpass. 

 

 


Another door closed last week on West Louisville’s potential to share in the city’s grab on Derby festivities, as the proprietor of the West Broadway Vendors Fair announced he’s canceling the six-year-old event.

Argie Dale, who has organized the last three fairs, told The Courier-Journal that street closures are largely to blame for the cancellation. Last year, the Abramson administration and Metro Police decided to close major stretches of Broadway in an attempt to curb cruising, and West Louisville businesses — some involved in the fair — argued they were being shut out of Derby festivities, because potential customers had too much difficulty getting to their shops.

In this photo, Marilyn Bland, who owns Lee’s Famous Recipe in the 2100 block of West Broadway, holds one of two signs placed in her restaurant’s front and side windows. Its message is pretty clear. The other sign encourages people to shop in West Louisville on Derby Day, and lists businesses that will be open despite street closures.