Off the Desk
Since last week's "Off the Desk" account of an ARTS Center Stage plan for future parking demands at the new Community Events Center and Long Performing Arts Center, ARTS officials are now floating a substitute proposal they think will be more palatable. This time, ARTS is offering a $1 million "gift" -- not a loan -- to the city to build structural support onto the planned parking garage, which would enable the construction of two additional parking levels should the demand call for them. In exchange, ARTS would retain naming rights of the garage -- which would most likely be named after the philanthropist who steps forward with a million bucks. ARTS Executive Director Ben Bentzin (whose last name was misspelled in last week's column) says the new proposal was put forward to alleviate fears that the plan would siphon money out of a limited parks development budget. Apparently, though, neighborhood and Friends of the Parks stakeholders are still cool to the idea of a bigger parking garage. Bentzin says he's hoping City Council will weigh in on the proposal at its Jan. 6 meeting...
Fraternity houses are a fact of life in college towns, but what happens when residents believe their neighborhood's quality of life is at risk when the frat boys want to build a new sports court? That's the question Barbara Epstein has been asking for months in the form of letters to City Council members, city planners, and Delta Tau Delta fraternity reps. Last Thursday, she went before the council to plead her case again, to no avail. On Friday, city project manager Jerry Rusthoven called Epstein to tell her that Delta's site plan had secured administrative approval. "What does this say about neighborhood planning?" asks Epstein, who presides over the campus-area NA bounded by Duval, I-35, 32nd, and 26th streets. But Rusthoven says the city was obligated to approve the proposal because the fraternity submitted a by-the-book site plan. Epstein argues that she and other NA reps weren't even aware that the site plan had been in the works for four years -- until the city notified her last May. To try to ameliorate the situation, Delta has agreed to place a curfew on itself for nighttime sports activities, says Rusthoven. Don't expect the NA to let the matter rest, however.