Fischer unveils neighborhoods plan

With the general election almost a month away, Democratic mayoral candidate Greg Fischer has unveiled a 10-point platform to create 21st Century neighborhoods across Louisville. The plan calls for — among other things — weatherizing homes, giving Dixie and Preston highways “extreme road makeovers” and developing after-school programs in neighborhoods.

“Louisville is a city of vibrant neighborhoods, and it’s time we invested them, just as we have invested in downtown,” Fischer said in a news release. “I will be a mayor for all parts of the city, from Valley Station to Prospect, Russell to Fern Creek, and I’ll make sure that our neighborhoods come first.”

The plan mirrors some of the initiatives and programs that were once a part of the old Department of Neighborhoods, which Mayor Jerry Abramson dismantled as part of city’s budget cuts. Unlike Abramson, however, Fischer emphasized in recent campaign advertisements a need to focus investment and development more in neighborhoods as opposed to downtown.

The plan:

1. Creating Neighborhood Action Teams comprised of representatives from police, fire, city code inspectors and others who go directly into neighborhoods to identify problems and solve them immediately. These teams, which will meet with neighbors at their homes, coffee shops and houses of worship, will tackle everything from vacant houses to broken sidewalks to dangerous intersections. Benefit to you: Neighborhood problems solved quickly and efficiently.

2. Selling vacant and abandoned homes for $1 and providing no-interest loans for rehab. The city, under Greg’s leadership, will be more aggressive in gaining control of vacant, dilapidated and abandoned properties, then selling those homes to families, non-profit organizations and churches.  Greg will hold a yearly news conference to highlight the 10 most deadbeat property owners to shame them into action. The city will also provide no-interest loans to help rehab the homes.  Benefit to you: Creating new housing for families while also protecting the architectural fabric of our community and revitalizing neighborhoods.

3. Giving major thoroughfares such as Dixie and Preston highways and Shelbyville Road Extreme Road Makeovers, including synchronized stoplights and, where possible, trees and sidewalks and bus stops. These investments will also encourage business investments and growth. Benefit to you: Reduced traffic congestion, especially during rush hours; better roads attract more businesses.

4. Creating the Bull’s Eye program to target historical commercial centers such as Parkland in West Louisville and the Okolona Center on Preston Highway with targeted incentives to attract new restaurants and retail. The city will offer no-interest and forgivable loans to business and property owners to encourage investments. Local businesses, rather than out-of-town companies, will get first priority for the loans. Benefit to you: More restaurants, stores and shops in your neighborhood, near your home.

5. Building the Southwest Library on Dixie Highway in Valley Station. Also begin planning the two other regional libraries — near Jefferson Mall in Okolona and in the Lyndon area by the Northeast YMCA. These libraries will be heavy with technology. Benefit to you: With these three projects, 90 percent of Louisville residents will be located within five miles of a major library.

6. Building Spokes, a system of multi-use paved trails that will connect neighborhoods to schools, parks, churches, shopping centers, and the 100-mile Louisville Loop. Parents will be able to push their strollers out their front door and onto the spokes. Children and teenagers will have places to bike and hike off busy roads. Where possible, these spokes will connect to schools to provide safe walking routes. Benefit to you: Places for children to play and walk without worrying about traffic; places for families to exercise.

7. Developing vibrant neighborhood after-school programs, in partnership with Jefferson County Public Schools, private and Catholic schools, businesses, arts groups, non-profits, faith-based groups, community centers and the city’s library system. These programs will be world-class, offering everything from tutoring to field trips to healthy meals and snacks. Benefit to you: Children get increased education/tutoring time and keeps children off the streets and out of trouble.

8. Increase the presence of police in our neighborhoods, by requiring officers to regularly walk their beat through the Walk-A-Mile program. Police officers will also be encouraged to join neighborhood and business associations and to become integral parts of the neighborhoods they serve. Benefit to you: Better relations between police and neighborhoods; protecting your property and further reducing crime.

9. Green neighborhoods by planting 10,000 trees during the first term; weatherizing homes to make them energy-efficient; encouraging rain barrels to water lawns and gardens. The city will work closely with neighborhood associations, condominium and apartment groups and subdivision residents to determine the areas most in need of new trees, identify homes that need weatherizing and teach people how to use rain barrels to keep stormwater out of the sewer system. Benefit to you: Reduce heating and cooling bills; improves neighborhood appearance.

10. Lead the effort to restore and protect Louisville’s historic neighborhoods and homes. Louisville has a large collection of historic properties that make our neighborhoods unique, and our citizens need the tax incentives and credits to help with renovation and preservation. Currently, state tax credits are capped at $5 million annually for all of Kentucky. Greg will work with the state legislature to increase or remove that cap so more people can take advantage of credits.  Benefit to you: Preserves the best architecture of our neighborhoods and gives homeowners incentives to invest in their property.


  1. Curt Morrison
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Um, no mass transit agenda at all?
    Greg- You do realize the key to vital, sustainable communities is connectivity. A way for people to be able to frugally enter and exit their neighborhoods to live, work, an play, right? I have a funny feeling that you’ll probably cause more TARC cuts if you’re elected too, because you’re that clueless about what makes healthy neighborhoods.
    Finally, downtown is a neighborhood too, Captain Clueless. People live there, ya know and we need to get more of them doing that if we expect it to prosper. Remember, you acknowledged at a forum a couple months ago that affordable housing downtown would be key to it’s development. That was before they downloaded you with this latest upgrade where the downtown neighborhood doesn’t even exist. If you don’t treat downtown like a neighborhood, you can’t expect people to live there, and you certainly can’t expect to impress the General Assembly with the Kumbaya session you plan to convene.

  2. G-townReader
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think we even have enough police to cover their beats in their patrol cars adequately.
    And, since so many children are growing old on school buses, there are no longer enough “after-school HOURS” to utilize this lofty program.

  3. Steve Magruder
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    I didn’t have time to respond to this last week, but here’s my review:

    1) I’m sure people will love to hear that their neighborhoods will be swarming with “city code inspectors” (IPL) under the Fischer plan. Wow, talk about a political tin ear. Also, the idea that problems can be solved “immediately” defies reality, and also, as we well know, these inspectors can pretty much force property owners to spend their own money to make improvements. So, this isn’t exactly an idea for government enhancing their service to us, so much as it is government being used to make everyone follow the rules. In some aspects, this is a good thing, but as we sometimes hear horror stories about IPL, we know that this good thing is sometimes carried too far with some very anal-retentive rules enforcement. Now, if Fischer only has in mind having these city officials looking at public works and how to improve them, and limiting the inspectors’ attention to only the most egregious private property violations, then he might have something there.

    Special Note: Fixing broken sidewalks isn’t enough. There are many thoroughfares and neighborhoods that have no sidewalks to begin with! This needs major attention.

    2) This idea sounds good, but naturally it will involve the city in even more lawsuits.

    3) Good idea, and it’s long overdue. Hal Heiner is also committed to paying similar attention to Dixie Highway.

    4) Helping Parkland sounds good, but isn’t Okolona already over-commercialized? That area seems to do well commercially as it is, to the point of choking on it. He needed to list additional neighborhoods here. The Kenwood Hill area needs this kind of investment.

    5) Moderate library expansion is a good idea, and Heiner likewise supports this direction. As long as taxes aren’t raised to do it.

    6) This idea sounds too fanciful to ever come true. I would guess the city could never afford to do this, with all the other programs it has under its wing. I say let’s address the real issues in neighborhoods as defined by people living in them before allotting money to “spokes”. Also, how will these trails be made secure, with proper lighting and access by police or ambulance if you need to contact them? Sounds like a lot of investment and long-term rights-of-way purchasing ahead, and therefore, this isn’t happening.

    7) Good thought, but how will it be paid for? Also, for those children at schools not in the vicinity of their home, will these programs be at their own school, or at a facility closer to their home? At any rate, it sounds like the transportation system for these students will need to radically altered, again, to make way for this idea.

    8) This is an idea that is “feel-good” to some, and intimidating to others. Even law-abiding citizens can feel weird with extra police presence around. However, I basically like the idea of city officials, not just police, becoming integrated into neighborhood/business associations. Bring government down to the people’s level, where it belongs. We are supposed to be the government, after all.

    9) More trees sounds good. Just don’t plant them near overhead utility lines. Yikes! Also, how will the home weatherization and rain barrels be paid for? But if you really want to talk about the greening of neighborhoods, why was community farming left out of this? Or expanding recycling pickup?

    10) While we can always do more to preserve historic structures, this item makes it sound like there aren’t already community efforts in this regard, and that the city doesn’t already have a number of sound laws and regulations in place. That said, working with the state legislature to increase the tax credits sounds like a good idea.