Feb 082012

By Danny Mayer

The central question surrounding the Rupp Opportunity Zone concerns its value. Will the capital outlays—human, monetary, carbon—necessary to redevelop the 50 acres surrounding Rupp Arena match the value projected to spring from the end-product? Will Rupp investment provide good value to the city? That is the question, and as usual, the answer depends on where you stand and how you define value.

The 47 appointed members of the Rupp Task Force have answered that question positively. This unelected body, with not a single publicly elected representative serving on it, spent $350,000 to issue a report calling for a $300 million renovation of Rupp Arena and construction of a new city convention center. To this body of vested UK boosters, downtown developers, bankers and other city business leaders, any capital servicing the Rupp environs is certain to provide a good return-on-investment (ROI). If designed well, they argue, any money shoveled into the small urban sliver of expensive Fayette County land will unlock private investment and provide enough economic returns to benefit the entire city.

Yet to the Fayette County resident who does not live, own property or run a business adjacent to Rupp Arena, is not affiliated with the UK Athletic Association, and does not attend conventions, arena concerts or UK home basketball games, the public investment will surely hold less value. The privately-funded Rupp Task Force subcommittee on Finance, chaired by big-time UK Athletic Booster Luther Deaton, has already outlined several local funding streams–park and water/sewer funds were both mentioned–that the city may need to capitalize upon. For non-downtown taxpayers (most of the city), this means that freeing up local money to pay for the Rupp transformation will have direct negative costs: at least some money earmarked for the entire Lexington community and our own unique neighborhoods will re-route into downtown.

For a Fayette County resident, then, valuing the Rupp project might be understood better by a simple cost comparison between development funds and projects. In Lexington’s ninth district, for example, outgoing council member Jay McChord has generated $2.5 million for park development, with the majority of that money coming from private sources. This investment has resulted in over 100 acres of new park land opening up across the district. At Shilito Park where much of the money was directed, funding produced a 2.25 mile healthway trail, improvements to a number of baseball fields, a resurfaced tennis complex, space for soccer and lacrosse, and expansion of a disc golf course. In addition, the $2.5 million investment netted other area parks playground equipment, four more healthway trails, a dog park, rain gardens, native plantings and a “sensory garden.” In the Ninth District, the $2.5 million in public/private funds have built community value by creating publicly accessible spaces of healthy activity, leisure and transportation. Park upgrades have also built property value and connected geographically disperse suburban neighborhoods and people, from mall rats on Nicholasville Road beyond New Circle to Unitarians attending church on Clay’s Mill nearby Man O’War.

In contrast, consider the plans submitted by UK booster Luther Deaton’s finance subcommittee. Unlike the Ninth District funds stewarded by McChord, initial funds directed to Rupp will produce nothing of value. Deaton’s group allocated most of the first $2.5 million in Rupp funds—all public money from the city or state—to achieving what the privately-funded Rupp Task Force had pretended to do: $500,000 will pay a real administrative staff; $600,000 will pay a real program manager to create a real plan of the area; $450,000 will create a real financial feasibility study; $200,000 will provide an arts facility feasibility study; and $500,000 will clean-up the site. City business leaders have called for an initial $300 million investment to be poured into Rupp’s 50 downtown acres. In terms of value for city residents, that should work out to a project with 120 times the value as McChord’s Ninth District funding for parks. It won’t even come close.

Sep 142011

Decent hours, no pay, holidays off

North of Center is looking for interested sports writers and photographers to provide regular coverage and reports on the town’s diverse sports scenes. We are actively interested in writers to cover bike polo and disc golf. Other sports coverage options include Lexington Bocce League, Latino baseball at  Coolavin, Croquet on Clay, Creacy kickball games, Castlewood ping pong matches, alley cat races, soapbox derbies, or any other sports event you can convince us needs coverage.

Past coverage can be found archived on our web page’s sports section.

We are interested in any ideas potential writers may have and are always on the lookout for celebrating the public sporting use of our public parks and lands. We are not seeking coverage of UK sports.

Knowledge of the sport you wish to cover is helpful though not necessary if motivated to learn. Ideally, writers will start by covering just one sport. Pick your beat. Preference will be given to writers who express a definite vision for how they plan to cover the sport.

The paper has a rich tradition of solid local sports coverage written from a variety of voices.  Apply to contribute to that tradition.

Jul 132011

Disc golf politics

By Danny Mayer

Here’s the skinny on the skinny budget, and how disc golf came to represent the evils of citizen entitlement run amok:

In April, Jim Gray proposed a $271 million city budget, which he described as a “businessman’s budget,” that represented a $10 million dollar reduction from the previous year. The budget called for eliminating 56 city jobs, an overall 10% reduction in funding to partner agencies (mostly social services and arts groups), and an overall reduction in the city workforce to 2,835 budgeted jobs—the lowest city workforce since 1999, when the city had 35,000 less residents.

In June, the city council sent Gray a revised budget. They restored much of the 10% reduction in funding to social service agencies, restored several of the city jobs cut by Gray, and added 25 police recruits. Council also proposed bonding (borrowing) $400,000 for the construction of 2 disc golf courses ($150,000) and a lacrosse complex ($150,000) on city owned parkland, and for handicap access at the Charles Young Center ($100,000). All told, the council budget restored $2.8 million, or 1% of the city’s general fund, a figure that still shaved $7 million off the previous year’s budget. Continue reading »

Apr 272011

NoC Sports

Appreciation for sports in this city has long been ignored by city leaders, or so say some Lexington citizens.

“I drove out to Nicholasville yesterday to check out the Riney B [disc golf course and water park], and dammit if their disc golf course don’t go to 24,” says Danny Mayer, 35, a passionate amateur disc golf player and regular faculty member at Bluegrass Community and Technical College. “Along with a private 22 hole course some communitarians have built out near Keene, this gives Jessamine County 2 extra long golf courses.” Continue reading »

Mar 022011

NoC Sports Desk

Courtesy BDGA

Athletes gather for Ice Bowl picture.

It isn’t often disc golfers get the chance to don short sleeves in the middle of February in Kentucky. Especially considering how much snow and cold blanketed the state for much of this winter. Yet this year’s 70 participants of the WCCPR Frozen Iron Ice Bowl II at Ironworks Hills in Winchester did just that, playing in some of the warmest weather on record for an ice bowl. Continue reading »

Feb 162011

Johansen soars to Master’s title in disc golf tournament

NoC Sports Desk

A few inches of snow and ice can make the tamest of tournaments seem tough. Combine the two with blustery, bitter cold winds and you’ve got a recipe for grueling disc golf. Such was the case February 5th when the Bluegrass Disc Golf Association (BDGA) held its fifth annual Lexington Ice Bowl.

The 36-hole tournament was played at the Shilito and Veteran’s Parks courses. It was a Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) sanctioned event, meaning pros from as far away as Tennessee and Ohio made the drive north and south to gain valuable points for their 2011 PDGA season. Continue reading »

Feb 022011

Snow blankets disc golf courses

NoC Sports Desk

If there’s anything that could possibly make playing disc golf more fun, it’s got to be playing disc golf in snow. The aptly named Lawrenceburg Disc Golf Association’s (LDGA) Slide and Glide II used mother nature’s slippery elixir to do just that on January 22. Of the 32 golfers who participated in this year’s event at the Anderson County Community Park, not a single soul came away with anything less than fond memories.

Courtesy LDGA

Some of the 32 disc golfers who enjoyed the sun and snow on Jan. 22.

Continue reading »

Sep 292010

But a lost evening at Winchell’s

By Northrupp Center

The stoner walk comes early at River Hill, a dense patch of second-growth honeysuckle that huddles up to Man O War on the approach to hole two. After an opening bogey on hole one and an errant first throw, a high-sailer that was knocked down 100 feet into its flight toward basket number two, I was relieved to find a reprieve. And so I sat, passing a small hollowed out piece of wood back and forth for a few moments with a good friend, letting a couple other groups pass us by, and enjoying the clearing, finally cool skies. Continue reading »

Sep 292010

By Troy Lyle

Area Disc Golf Tournaments

The Bluegrass Disc Golf Association (BDGA) is still accepting new members. This fall BDGA will participate in a number of regional tournaments, and it’s not too late to join them. The group is still taking applications for all of its upcoming tournaments. If you’d like to enter a tournament, become a BDGA member or learn more about disc golf in general visit www.bdga.org.

Here’s a list of upcoming tournaments: Continue reading »

Sep 162010

Shootin’ and Snaggin’ with the Frugal Fisherman

I’m a sporadic disc golfer. My introduction to the sport came over a three year period in the late 90s when I threw an infrequent series of really stoned-out rounds at parks across the greater southeastern United States with a close friend from high school. We played suburban parks in Raleigh, state parks in rural middle Georgia, and even a municipal park located near the Charleston, SC coast. My friend worked a sales job with a corporate client—selling lawn mowers, I thought, until informed years later that it was actually ATM receipts and other printables. Officially, he was “out on a sales call” for all 288 holes we played.

More recently, I have been playing at a nearby place in Keene, KY, on property I’ve helped rent with some friends for the past three years. The course is an excellent compliment to the firepits, berry patches, gardens, canoes, kayaks and hops decks with which we’ve littered the property. Continue reading »