With buckets in hand, group gathers downtown to protest CentrePointe project

Rick Fromm delivered his speech to a group of nearly 40 fellow protestors downtown. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff 

Cheyene Miller

About 40 people, some with buckets in hand, gathered at Phoenix Park in downtown Lexington on Saturday afternoon to protest the long-delayed CentrePointe project.

Local resident Rick Fromm said he organized the rally because he and other Lexington residents are frustrated with the lack of progress on the CentrePointe project.  He said the area was better off when it was occupied by several small businesses.

“There were actually businesses there that were providing services to people,” said Fromm, who works in telecommunications.

The rally was the beginning of what Fromm called the “CentrePointe Bucket Brigade,” an initiative aimed at pushing city officials to find a solution for the project.

On Feb. 10, CentrePointe developers wrote a letter to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government telling the council that they were pulling out of the project.

Mayor Jim Gray said the developers’ proposal asked too much from taxpayers, costing twice as much as other options.

“The developers were unwilling to consider the boundaries (the) council felt were necessary to continue negotiations,” Gray said in a public statement. “While everyone wants to see progress, it shouldn’t come at a premium to citizens.”

Mason Miller, an attorney representing the Urban County Council in the CentrePointe project, sent a letter to the developers and said their proposal would have cost the city an excess of $5.5 million per year.

Lexington officials had planned to build a new city hall building on the site, according to the letter, but the council has not made any decisions on the new city hall as of yet.

Fromm said the city should never have begun the project in the first place.

“They didn’t have the financing, they didn’t have the people lined up to participate in the whole project,” Fromm said. “You don’t tear down a city block and dig a hole without that type of funding in place.”

Fromm is circulating a petition about the events that led to the CentrePointe dilemma and the precautions that should be in place to prevent similar situations from happening again. He said he hopes to get 1,000 signatures for the petition, and he plans to take it to the Urban County Council.

UK anthropology senior Tyler Worthington, who was at the rally holding a bucket, said the area was better left as a field.

“There’s been too many missteps. If they had left it as a field they could have used it as a public space,” Worthington said. “But then they went and dug a hole.”

Morehead State alumnus Marvin Puckett, like Fromm, said the area was better for Lexington when it was occupied by small businesses.

“There are just so many places downtown that have gone out of business,” Puckett said. “It’s like a void.”

Gray is running for Rand Paul’s U.S. senate seat, and both Worthington and Puckett said the project might come into play.

According to the event’s Facebook page, the event will happen every Saturday until the hole is full again.