Todd endorses project that threatens The Dame

Readers of the Kernel may be interested to know that President Lee Todd has endorsed the Webb Companies’ proposed CentrePointe hotel/condominium project that calls for the demolition of the buildings containing The Dame, Buster’s and Mia’s. This point was recently confirmed by Tom Harris, vice president for external affairs at UK.

This project has caused an unprecedented outcry from every corner of the Lexington and university communities. Fans of history and of historic preservation are dismayed at the loss of a number of historic downtown buildings, including the Morton Block (1826), one of Lexington’s oldest commercial structures. Many local architects, including Anthony Eardley, the former dean of UK’s College of Architecture, are appalled by the gigantic scale and inferior design of the project. The project appears to violate several important downtown-planning documents. Since the project will likely still be under construction when the World Equestrian Games open in 2010, we will have a huge construction site at the very center of our downtown at the very moment when the world is coming to see us.

For me as a UK faculty member, however, the most compelling argument against this project is its destruction of an entertainment district that is hugely important to many current UK students and many more recent graduates. Lexington’s economic and cultural future depends in large part on persuading UK’s and Transylvania’s brightest and best students to settle here after graduation. Many of these valuable young citizens see the destruction of these businesses as a slap in the face to people of their generation and a reason to move elsewhere.

I do not know if President Todd knew of these many arguments when he decided to endorse the CentrePointe project. And I heartily agree with him that some sort of development on that block is highly desirable. But, if you agree with me that the CentrePointe project as currently designed is not right for this crucial block, I encourage you to write to President Todd to express your thoughts before you leave at the end of the semester.

Dan Rowland

History professor

Trustees keep ignoring campus sustainability

After the debacle at Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting concerning what is known as the “Greenthumb fee” — a misleading title, since the money would not have gone to the student organization of same name, but instead to campus-wide sustainability initiatives — I am, to say the least, rather frustrated. But, to keep my argument from seeming trivial, I will set aside my frustration and employ cool-headed logic to argue the same point.

Mining and burning coal take a tremendous toll on Kentucky’s citizens and environment. It is an indisputable fact. Knowing this, one can easily see that, since this university relies on a massive pile of coal to meet its energy needs, we will soon need to find renewable and sustainable means of powering our campus.

The energy switch must happen soon, which means that by failing to allocate a mere 50 cents of student fees toward sustainability initiatives, the board has wasted the university’s time and money. Furthermore, the Greenthumb fee was the least costly of all those considered, and it is one of the only fees that could have actively worked to save the university money during our budget crisis.

Environmentalism is no longer a hippie pastime — it is a necessary philosophy. This country is in the throes of an energy crisis, and solving this problem is the single greatest research challenge of our time. How can a school that hopes to become a top-20 research institution ignore it? While UK has supported a few small green initiatives, it hasn’t done nearly enough.

The administration says sustainability funding should come from the school, not the students; in light of Wednesday’s meeting, I say it’s time for this institution to be courageous and put its money where its mouth is.

Emily Foerster

Spanish and English senior