Archive for the Environment Category

Friends of Otter Creek Park Meeting January 5th

Posted in Economics, Environment, Happenings, Kentucky News, Louisville News, Media, Metro Parks, Ohio River, Otter Creek Park, Politics, State of StateoftheCommonwealth on December 29, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Here’s an update on Otter Creek Park happenings from our affiliated blog http://saveottercreekpark.wordpress.com:

The next meeting of the group provisionally entitled Friends of Otter Creek Park will be Monday, January 5th, 2009 at the Southwest Government Center, 7219 Dixie Hwy #106 in Southwest Louisville at 7 PM. This group is a citizen-led, grassroots effort to explore what possibilities exist for keeping Otter Creek Park open for recreational usage and free from commercial, industrial or residential development. Given that Louisville Metro government plans to close OCP on Thursday, January 1st, we are also committed to finding ways to reopen the park to the public as soon as possible.

As of this writing, this group has many members but no clear organization or official mission, so defining the group will be the main task of Monday’s meeting. The author of this blog, Joel Hunt, was elected Co-Chairperson of the group along with Patsy Bowman (organizer of the previous two rallies), and as such I wrote an initial email to our members, of which the elements which pertain to the next meeting I’ll share here:

… Our next meeting at the Southwest Government Center on Monday, January 5th, 2009 at 7:00 PM. The meeting will be open to the public and the local news media, as well as any other group with an interest in keeping Otter Creek Park open. Louisville Metro representatives and/or representatives from any other relevant government agency (counties, state, federal) will be invited as well. Information about the meeting will be publicized on http://saveottercreekpark.wordpress.com as well as on the Facebook Save Otter Creek Park group.

As we all know, the Park will be closed by the city on January 1st, so the next steps that we as a group take will be important. With that in mind, being organized and presenting a clear, coherent message to the community at large about what Otter Creek Park means to us and our families is very important. So in turn I’d like to propose that we develop an agenda for the next meeting, with the emphasis first on organizing as a group by determining sub-committees to tackle individual goals (examples: Petitions and Volunteering; Public Relations and Media; Non-Profit and Charity Outreach, etc.), electing officers, and discussing whether this group should or should not be incorporated as some sort of legal entity. Additionally, I think we need to see what petition signatures we as a group can collect in the next two weeks, and consolidate that data into phonebanks and email lists. Lastly, we need to craft a mission statement for the group, as well develop a media strategy to inform the public. That said, these are what I think the priorities should be, but I am more than happy to keep the agenda open not only to members of this committee, but the general public as well. While saving Otter Creek Park is our goal, we should exercise as much transparency as possible to achieve it.

So send along your suggestions for the meeting’s agenda to this email, saveottercreekpark@gmail.com, and I’ll put forth a rough version to send to everyone in the next few days (as time allows — obviously the holidays are busy times for everyone, myself included!). If there’s anyone you think should be involved with this effort but isn’t included on this email, please let me know ASAP! Also, if there are concerned community members out there who don’t use email but want to be involved, please put them in contact with myself and the group. We need as many committed people as possible!

With that in mind, we’re sounding the call now. If you are interested in joining our cause, you are welcome to join us at the Southwest Government Center on Monday the 5th. If you would like to take an active role in helping us develop the agenda for the meeting — as well as what direction the group may take — please contact me at saveottercreekpark@gmail.com. I’ll post the meeting’s agenda in the next few days as soon as a draft version is ready.

Additionally, please contact your Louisville Metro Councilmember and invite them to the meeting. You can do so by contacting them here:

Metro Council
601 W. Jefferson St.
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 574-1100
Address postal mail to individual Councilmember.

http://www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroCouncil/ – This site links to individual Councilmembers.

Additionally, WFPL, Louisville’s National Public Radio station, is running a story this morning that confirms the the City of Louisville is searching for another entity, whether public or private, to run Otter Creek Park after the city closes it this Thursday, January 1st:

Otter Creek Park in Meade County is set to close this week. But efforts aimed at re-opening the park in 2009 are underway.

For decades, Otter Creek Park has been owned and operated by Louisville Metro Government. But the park will close on Friday to help meet a $20 million city budget shortfall.

Metro Parks is looking for another entity to operate the facility, such as the state or the city of Fort Knox. Spokesperson Jason Cissell says even if a new operator is found now, the park will still close this week.

“It would take some time to transition it over to another operating entity, to give them time to staff-up and prepare to operate the facility,” he says. “We don’t have a specific timeframe but we would be hopeful that it would re-open within a matter of months if someone else were able to come in and operate it.”

Cissell says if a public entity doesn’t agree to take over Otter Creek Park, the city may consider private interests. He says a private operator would still be required to keep the facility open to the public, only for recreational use.

This is the first time that Metro Parks has mentioned finding another entity to run OCP, and so far no one from Metro Parks or elsewhere in Louisville Metro government has made an effort to contact our citizens group to inform us of these negotiations. As far as we know, they haven’t contacted any other recreational-interest group, either.

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Kentucky Coalition to Sue EPA Over Mountain Streams

Posted in Appalachia, Environment, Kentucky News, Kentucky Small Towns, Media, Politics on December 23, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

The Courier-Journal is reporting this morning that a coalition of groups in Kentucky and Appalachia are suing the Environmental Protection Agency after a lame-duck revision that would allow mining companies to potentially dump waste rock in mountain streams:

A coalition of environmental groups including Kentucky Waterways Alliance has sued the Interior Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeking to overturn a new rule that will make it easier for mining companies to dump waste rock into streams.

The revisions, made final Dec. 12, will let mining companies disregard a 100-foot stream buffer zone if they are able to convince regulators that no other option was available and that they had taken steps to minimize harm to the environment.

Attorneys with Earthjustice, Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, Appalachian Citizens Law Center, Sierra Club and Waterkeeper Alliance filed the legal challenge yesterday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The suit was filed on behalf of the Kentucky environmental group as well as the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Save Our Cumberland Mountains, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Coal River Mountain Watch and Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.

If not overturned, the environmental groups from Kentucky, West Virginia or Tennessee said the rule change would lead to more mountaintop removal coal mining. That’s the mining practice of using explosives on the tops and sides of mountains to get at underlying coal seams.

“The notion that coal mining companies can dump their wastes in streams without degrading them is a fantasy that the Bush administration is now trying to write into law,” said Judith Petersen, executive director of Kentucky Waterways Alliance.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the federal agencies violated environmental protection standards, failed to consider the cumulative effects of stream loss from mining, and failed to analyze a full range of alternatives, among other allegations.

At issue is a new Office of Surface Mining rule that revised a 25-year-old rule that generally prohibited mining within 100 feet of streams, but has been a source of controversy and confusion since it was challenged in a federal lawsuit in West Virginia in the late 1990s. Despite the rule, companies generally have been allowed to fill the upper reaches of stream beds in mountain hollows…

Gov. Steve Beshear along with Attorney General Jack Conway and U.S. Reps. Ben Chandler and John Yarmuth wrote letters to the EPA opposing the rule change. But 20 Kentucky legislators, including House Speaker Jody Richards and House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, followed up with their own letter supporting the change.

We expect the story to get a fair amount of national coverage as well, beginning with this Associated Press piece on the lawsuit.

In other environmental news, yesterday the EPA designated five counties within the Louisville region, as well as some other counties within Kentucky, as non-compliant with federal clean air standards regarding particulates. Fun.

Tonight’s Otter Creek Park Meeting and the Next Steps…

Posted in Economics, Environment, Happenings, Kentucky News, Louisville News, Media, Metro Parks, Ohio River, Otter Creek Park, Politics, State of StateoftheCommonwealth on December 23, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(This post is duplicated from our sister site http://saveottercreekpark.wordpress.com. As such, we’ve dropped the third person.)

(Kevin Martin addresses the crowd.)

Approximately 150 people came out to the Southwest Government Center on Dixie Highway on a frigid night to discuss what we can do as citizens to try to keep Otter Creek Park from closure. Brian Tucker of The Valley Report has already posted this fantastic write-up of the night’s activities:

The Southwest Government Center on Dixie Highway was reduced to standing-room-only status tonight, as around 150 people jammed the main courtroom to share ideas and plan strategy in order to save Otter Creek Park from permanent closure. Nearly 20% of attendees were from counties outside of Jefferson. The meeting, assembled by concerned citizen Patsy Bowman and moderated by local Realtor Kevin Martin, included Councilman Bob Henderson (D-14) and Mary Ann Vetter, a representative of Metro District 12 Councilman Rick Blackwell’s office. Also in attendance was Renay Davis from Metro District 25 Councilman Doug Hawkins’ office and Joel Hunt, a concerned citizen that maintains a website dedicated to saving Otter Creek Park. No traditional media attended this event.

I didn’t know what to expect because I had heard so little about the meeting, but thankfully the word got out. Those in attendance had the opportunity to throw out ideas on how to generate revenue or expand activities at the park in an effort to keep it open. Here are a few of the suggestions:

  • -Paid memberships
  • -Formation of a “Non-Profit” foundation
  • -A Tri-County Park Commission, consisting of representatives from Meade, Jefferson and Hardin Counties
  • -A First-Class restaurant with an alcoholic beverage licence
  • -Admission fees (per vehicle or per person)

Also mentioned were efforts to involve sportsman, horseman, biking and hiking groups. People seemed against any type of Wildlife Management Area status or residential/commercial development of any kind. Also heard were calls to “open the books”. There are formal petitions circulating. Please sign the petition when you get a chance.

In the end, a formal committee was formed and a chairperson was elected. Congratulations to Joel Hunt, chairperson of the new Committee to Save Otter Creek Park. There will be advance notice of the next meeting. I was very satisfied with the coming together of so many personalities and backgrounds to accomplish this feat. We have only just begun. With this diverse and determined group, I feel confident that there will be a plan developed allowing the park to remain open. They’ve got the guns, but we have the numbers. Get involved now.

So without further ado, I’m pleased to announce that, yes, I will be Chairperson of this new Ad-Hoc Committee to Save Otter Creek Park. I just wrote an email to a large group of people who stayed until the very end of tonight’s meeting to get started on organizing this group, and without butchering it too much, here are the relevant bits for our next steps:

As we also voted on, we hope to have our next meeting at the Southwest Government Center on Monday, January 5th, 2009 at 7:00 PM. Patsy, who will be Co-Chair of the Committee, and I will work together to firm up that date tomorrow, and will send an email confirming the meeting to everyone here. Additionally, the meeting will be open to the public and the local news media, as well as any other group with an interest in keeping Otter Creek Park open. Louisville Metro representatives and/or representatives from any other relevant government agency (counties, state, federal) will be invited as well. Information about the meeting will be publicized on http://saveottercreekpark.wordpress.com as well as on the Facebook Save Otter Creek Park group.

As we all know, the Park will be closed by the city on January 1st, so the next steps that we as a group take will be important. With that in mind, being organized and presenting a clear, coherent message to the community at large about what Otter Creek Park means to us and our families is very important. So in turn I’d like to propose that we develop an agenda for the next meeting, with the emphasis first on organizing as a group by determining sub-committees to tackle individual goals (examples: Petitions and Volunteering; Public Relations and Media; Non-Profit and Charity Outreach, etc.), electing officers, and discussing whether this group should or should not be incorporated as some sort of legal entity. Additionally, I think we need to see what petition signatures we as a group can collect in the next two weeks, and consolidate that data into phone banks and email lists. Lastly, we need to craft a mission statement for the group, as well develop a media strategy to inform the public. That said, these are what I think the priorities should be, but I am more than happy to keep the agenda open not only to members of this committee, but the general public as well. While saving Otter Creek Park is our goal, we should exercise as much transparency as possible to achieve it.

As I just stated above, I believe in keeping our group’s goals and efforts as transparent as possible. With that in mind, I’d like to invite anyone reading this blog who may have not been able to make it tonight, or anyone who wants to help out in any way they can, to try to attend the next meeting. Additionally, please feel free to contact me about the meeting’s agenda and your ideas on what should be discussed.

You can send along your suggestions for the meeting’s agenda to the email, saveottercreekpark@gmail.com, and I’ll put forth a rough version to this site in the next few days (as time allows — obviously the holidays are busy times for everyone, myself included!). In the meantime, I’m going to work hard to get the word out once the next meeting’s details are confirmed. Also, if there are concerned community members out there who don’t use email but want to be involved, please feel free to put them in contact with myself and the group. We need as many committed people as possible!

Thanks again, everybody — especially Patty Bowman and Kevin Martin –for all your time and effort. I believe that we will make a difference for the Park that we all love.

Save Otter Creek Park Blog Now Active!

Posted in Development, Economics, Environment, Kentucky News, Labor, Louisville News, Media, Metro Parks, Ohio River, Otter Creek Park, Politics, State of StateoftheCommonwealth on December 8, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

One of the goals discussed among many participants at yesterday’s meeting in Otter Creek Park was the goal of keeping the public informed on any developments pertaining to the park and its closure on January 1st, 2008. While the Facebook group Save Otter Creek Park has grown by leaps and bounds in the past week, it was obvious that many of the participants in yesterday’s meeting don’t use Facebook — nor should efforts to help save the park be limited to one social-networking activity. With that in mind, the Save Otter Creek Park blog has been created, at the following URL: http://www.saveottercreekpark.wordpress.com.

The purpose of the Save Otter Creek Park blog is to help keep the concerned citizens of Louisville, Jefferson County, Meade County, Hardin County, Fort Knox, Radcliff, Brandenburg, Vine Grove and the greater Kentuckiana area informed and updated concerning current events involving the announcement by Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson that Otter Creek Park will close indefinitely on January 1, 2008.

We here at State of the Commonwealth will be helping with administration and content at Save Otter Creek Park, but we can’t do it alone. If you’d like to contribute to the blog, please contact us at saveottercreekpark@gmail.com with any tips, news updates, comments, suggestions, ideas and memories concerning Otter Creek Park and local efforts to keep it open. Thanks!

Otter Creek Park Meeting/Rally a Success

Posted in Development, Economics, Environment, Happenings, Kentucky News, Labor, Louisville News, Media, Metro Parks, Ohio River, Otter Creek Park, Politics on December 8, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Well, Sunday’s meeting in Otter Creek Park was at least a success in terms of both turnout and media coverage, but the park is still closing January 1st, with an uncertain future beyond that date. An estimated 475 signatures were signed for a statement drafted by Jason Flickner of Kentucky Waterways Alliance that urges Mayor Jerry Abramson to work as diligently as possible, especially with other interested local, state and federal government agencies or other groups, to keep the park open.

WHAS, Fox41, and WAVE all aired coverage of the rally. Here’s the story filed at WHAS11.com:

It may be the last campfire the Bryant family ever builds in Otter Creek Park.

For 30 years, Jimmy Bryant has been bringing his family to this park. It’s a tradition that’s about to end.

His daughter Brandi Cruse remembers all of the campfires she used to sit around here as a child and says she wants her three year old daughter Aya to have the same memories and experiences, but now she won’t.

It’s a thought that brings Brandi to tears.

Thousands of other people have built memories in Otter Creek Park as well — hiking on the miles of trails, biking through the woods, and seeing wildlife at almost every turn.

Bill Butler has been coming here every week since he was 13 years old.

He says the thought of not being able to come to this park anymore keeps him up at night.

He remembers, “When it happened, I couldn’t even sleep that night. It really hurt me bad, and it still hurts me to think I can never come back out here again to this park. It’s been part of my life for 65 years and now it’s gone.”

The city of Louisville has owned and operated the 2600 acre park since 1949. The problem is, it costs about [$500,000] a year to keep this park open, and right now the city of Louisville just doesn’t have that money.

So on Sunday, about 250 people got together in the park to hold a rally to try and convince the city of Louisville to keep Otter Creek open.

They made signs, handed out flyers and signed petitions.

The group hopes it will continue to come to the park for many years to come.

Right now, Otter Creek Park is scheduled to close on January 1st.

Of course, that news story doesn’t tell the whole story. As noted above, 475 signatures were collected, conflicting with the report of 250 people. That said, even if there were only 250 people (we didn’t count), that’s still pretty decent considering it was a pretty cold afternoon. Additionally, that story (and others like it) don’t really tell much about who showed up. We saw a diverse crowd of people and interests: campers, fishers, mountain bikers; people from Louisville (East Enders, Southwest Louisvillians, Highlanders, etc.), Hardin Countians, Meade Countians, OCP employees. And a few Camp Piomingo alumni (like us!). All of us had many reasons to be there, but all agreed on one thing: closing the park will be a huge blow not only to Louisville, but to the surrounding region as well.

There also seemed to be a consensus that further steps need to be taken by OCP supporters. Check State of the Commonwealth, as well as the Facebook group Save Otter Creek Park, for future updates. We also strongly encourage you to contact Louisville Metro government officials, if you haven’t already:

Mayor’s Office
Metro Hall / 4th Floor
527 W. Jefferson St.
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 574-2003

Metro Council
601 W. Jefferson St.
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 574-1100
Address postal mail to individual Councilmember.

http://www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroCouncil/ – This site links to individual Councilmembers.

After the rally dispersed, we went walking around the Van Buren and North Point areas of the park, and took a few pictures (we didn’t take any at the rally). You can see them on our Flickr page here.

This Just In: OCP To Close Jan. 1

Posted in Development, Economics, Environment, Happenings, Kentucky News, Louisville News, Metro Parks, Ohio River, Otter Creek Park on December 4, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

WHAS-11 News is reporting that Louisville Metro has extended the closing date of Otter Creek Park from December 14th to January 1st.

Meanwhile, WAVE-3 reports that there will be a meeting at OCP Sunday on keeping the park open:

A large turnout is expected at Otter Creek on Sunday, December 7th when a group trying to save the park will meet at the park pavilion to discuss their options. The meeting starts at 2 p.m.

Unfortunately we’ll be able to attend but we hope it goes well! If you attend, please be sure to tell us how it went.

Big Box Reuse Author Coming to Louisville, Bardstown

Posted in Art, Development, Drink, Economics, Environment, Happenings, Kentucky Small Towns, Labor, Louisville News, Media, Politics, Transportation on December 3, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(above image of Julia Christensen’s Big Box Reuse from npr.org)

We got scooped on it by Consuming Louisville, but we still wanted to inform you that our good friend and Bardstown native Julia Christensen will be in both Louisville and Bardstown this weekend to talk about her book Big Box Reuse (which we told you about back in October). Julia’s presenting a free opening of photographs from the book at the Green Building Gallery this Friday, December 5th from 5 to 9 PM. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

In her book Big Box Reuse , and accompanying photographic exhibition, Julia Christensen takes us on a road trip across America to look at what becomes of the spaces superstores leave behind when they move out. These warehouse-like buildings have found their place in the built landscape since the first Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target stores opened in 1962.

Since the spring of 2004, Christensen has driven over 75,000 miles, visiting converted “big boxes” and meeting the people who are transforming these massive shells into useful structures for their community. She has documented what happened to the structures, the parking lots, and the surrounding communities. She has found out who wanted to reuse the buildings, why and how. What Christensen has discovered is that examining the big box building provides a wealth of information that will help us steer the future of our landscape with more informed decision-making processes. Among the things Big Box Reuse points out: despite the harmful construction of the big box, reuse is a powerful tool in the fight against the increasing dangers of sprawl. For every building that is reused, a new one does not go up; a monumental victory, as the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently indicated the energy used to destroy older buildings in addition to the energy used to build new ones could power the entire state of California for 10 years (LA Times, October 2008).

She’ll also be speaking and signing books tomorrow (that’s Thursday, December 4th) at the Glassworks Building at 6 PM as part of the Sustainable City Series. This event is free but space is limited; you can reserve a space here.

Last but not least, Julia will be in Bardstown on Saturday, December 6th for a book signing at Bardstown Booksellers starting at 2 PM.

For more information, visit the Big Box Reuse site at http://www.bigboxreuse.com/book.