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Topic: Update on the firehouse issue

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Posted by frappyjohn (Msg), 3:26 am Jan 8, 2009:
Update on the firehouse issue
I spoke with David Blank and Herb Fink and Jan Cieremans earlier tonight about the closing of Engine Company 7 among other things.

Apparently the meeting with the Mayor yesterday was not encouraging. Although the Mayor said he was going to get answers to a couple of questions before he made a final decision, the feeling was his mind is made up and he is letting the clock run out.

Since the firehouse is still scheduled to close on Saturday, that doesn't leave much time for applying political pressure to change people's minds. We can expect the Old Louisville Neighborhood Council to file for an injunction on Thursday or Friday to stop this madness ... temporarily at least. Let's hope we get a judge with some common sense.

In the meantime we can hope our elected representatives on the metro council might wake up long enough to weigh in on this matter. To that end the OLNC is hoping to muster a presence at the council's meeting tonight (at 6 pm at City Hall, 6th and Jefferson). If you can make it, it would be greatly appreciated. They will have some signs to hold. If you want to make your own sign, it should be no larger than 18"x18" and should be polite.

If you haven't done so already, please take a couple of minutes to express your views on the subject to the Mayor and your councilperson. Here's a link to a list of elected officials and contact info for them:

(In my opinion our own Councilman Unseld sort of dilly-dallied at last week's meeting but then appeared to get on our bandwagon. Still, he doesn't appear to be too motivated to really help. You can maybe change that.)

You can submit a letter to the Courier-Journal online at:

Some talking points:

  • It's the oldest continuously operating firehouse in the U.S.A.!!
  • Closing it will lengthen fire response time to Old Louisville and to the southern Downtown area.
  • Old Louisville has the largest collection of Victorian Homes in the U.S.A. They are very flammable thanks to the plaster lathing on their walls.
  • The area around the firehouse (near 6th and York) has a lot of high-rises, many of them full of seniors or the disabled.
  • The fire service in the urban area is financed largely by higher property taxes in this area. Property taxes have not been adversely affected by the economic downturn so there is no justification for doing this.
  • Cutting urban services without cutting the increased urban taxes in the urban district raises legal and constitutional issues that may question the legality of the metro government structure in the first place. (Taxation without representation.)
  • Planning a good fire system is a civil engineering task. And good civil engineering calls for a distributed system. This yields faster response times, redundancy, and failsafe-ness. Small is beautiful.
  • Neighborhood firehouses are an important part of a humane and sustainable neighborhood. Life takes place at the local level. Our institutions should be at this level also.
  • If the decision is solely based on economics, has anyone figured the indirect costs of losing our city's distinction of having the nation's oldest continuously operating firehouse? This is one of many "little things" that add texture and flavor to our city and make for a good quality of life. Should we bulldoze the Edison house, Farmington, Locust Grove, the Farnsley house, etc. to save a few dollars?
  • The economic stimulus program is rumored to have a major component that will finance neighborhood community buildings. Won't it be ironic if we close down Engine Company 7 and then plead for our share of pork to build a new pseudo old community building?
  • The closing is an example of a government that is not structured to be responsive to its citizens. The strong mayor system is the antithesis of humane local government.

And you can think of more.

I hope Louisville's "Green" and "local" and anarchist movements will see how closing this firehouse is an assault on their principles and get motivated to do something about it. But I'm getting preachy so I better stop.

Tonight, City Hall, 6 p.m. (And report back to our Assembly at the Old Louisville Coffee House.)



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