Thursday, April 26, 2007

Urban oasis

While I'd like to see this headline about Slack Plaza, it is about a proposed park across Washington Street from the Clay Center.
A series of terraces, planted with native oak, maple, beech and birch trees. Beneath the trees an understory of mountain laurel, dogwoods and flame azaleas, with a groundcover of Allegheny spurge and ladyferns. A small pool surrounded by limestone and boulders.

This fall, workers could begin to transform a rundown parking lot across Washington Street from the Clay Center into an urban oasis. The long-awaited Gateway Greenspace could be open to the public by this time next year, Marita Roos said.

A principal with Philadelphia landscape architects Andropogon Associates, Roos went over final drawings for the project with a reporter Wednesday, pointing out where different individual trees and rocks will be placed.

I'd like to see the same sort of plan for Slack Plaza. My fear is that it will be turned into a large sidewalk that runs from Summers Street to the mall.

Greenspace is a good thing, especially in the middle of a city.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Capitol Street Bar: Impulse

I welcome the promise of a smoke-free bar that plays dance music in walking distance of my house.
Now Amores wants to bring the sophistication of Miami nightclubs to Charleston.

A non-smoking establishment, Amores said Impulse would attract an older crowd looking for a quieter, more relaxing affair compared to other city nightspots.

"The city is missing an upscale place for people to come, relax and dance after dinner or a movie," she said. "Some place that's a little more sophisticated, where people won't feel out of place."

The floor plan will include a dance floor and leather couches with tables for guests to lounge. Amores is also planning a VIP section for the second floor.

"It will be a nice, secluded, private out of the way place for people to enjoy," she said. "But I haven't decided what people will need to get in there."

I hope she fairs better than the previous establishments in that locations.
Over the years, a series of ventures has come and gone. Muldoon's pub, Rio Grande, Azteca Mexican Restaurant, A Taste of Italy and the Liquid nightclub all have occupied -- and then vacated -- the spacious location near the corner of Capitol and Quarrier streets.

I remember eating at Danny Jones' restaurant at that location in the 80s.
Jones is familiar with the location and all the entrepreneurial struggles that have occurred there. In 1988, Jones leased the space for his own eatery, Danny's Restaurant. The restaurant closed in 1990.

"The crime was so bad there," Jones said. "I just decided it wasn't worth it."

I wonder if she'd let me DJ. I have hours of House, Rave, and Techno music on my iPod.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Council candidates tell the Daily Mail what they would do with Slack Plaza

Slack Plaza has become a local campaign issue. The Charleston Daily Mail asked Charleston council candidates how they would make Slack Plaza a more desirable place at a meeting with the Daily Mail editorial board on Monday

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Plans for Slack Plaza take shape

A neighbor alerted me to a meeting in Slack Plaza yesterday. The Charleston Gazette has the story this morning.
If Charleston Mayor Danny Jones has his way at Slack Plaza, the fountain will be filled and turned into a planter bed, trees will be planted to replace the Bradford pears recently cut down, and the low retaining wall along the north side will be eliminated.

But others, led by City Councilman Charlie Loeb, want to hire a landscape architect who would totally the redesign the urban park between Summers and Laidley streets.

In an informal meeting Monday morning, Jones outlined his vision for the park to people he recently appointed to a special Slack Plaza committee. About a dozen people — City Council members, city employees, the head of the Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority and other interested people — met Jones in the middle of the plaza.

The plans say nothing about having more police in the area.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

A 3,000 mile plus trek across the United States... on foot

BRANCHWALKS.COM is the blog of a Richmond Va. man who is walking across the United States. He's currently in West Virginia.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Committee floats some ideas for Slack Plaza

The Charleston Daily Mail: Food vendors, live music suggested for controversial park
Adding food vendors and live music, and enhancing greenspace are ideas some members of a committee to redesign Slack Plaza will explore in the coming months.

Mayor Danny Jones formed the 11-member committee last week to deal with the controversial pedestrian thoroughfare between Summers and Laidley streets in downtown Charleston.

The plaza, which is part of a corridor between Capitol Street and Charleston Town Center, has been a problematic area for city officials.

I think it's a great idea to have live music and food vendors in Slack Plaza, but I don't think it fixes the real problem.

We've had live music in the park for years. There is a stage in Slack Plaza during Festivall. Various groups have hosted musical acts in the Plaza for as long as I've lived downtown.

It also sounds like the suggestions being made are for the lunch/daytime crowd, which is fine. But it doesn't look at the big picture.

The problem is people who gather in the area to sell drugs, drink beer, fight and generally raise hell. One time a saw a large group of men playing dice during lunch. Another time I've seen people smoking joints in the middle of the day.

While more police during the day has stopped this time of behavior, I've still have seen people openly drinking beer out of brown paper bags in the evening. The only thing that will change the bad behavior is to put police in or near the park at all times.

Slack Plaza should not only be a welcoming place full of food vendors and live music during lunch, but a welcoming place at all times.

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We Are...Naked

Marshall graduate hits newsstands in Playboy pictorial

When I was an undergrad, there were no Girls of the Southern Conference pictorials. See what moving to Conference USA get us.
You might envision Angela Leigh based on her interests: microbiology and offshore fishing.

They don't exactly conjure up a glamour girl.

But flip to page 110 of the May issue of Playboy and you'll realize the Marshall alumnae resembles a slimmer, more sultry Mariah Carey - but one who happens to wear cowboy boots and little else in her pictorial.

Leigh, 26, is one of three-dozen coeds included in Playboy's 2007 Girls of Conference USA, featured within the magazine's latest issue bearing the late Anna Nicole Smith on the cover.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Slack Plaza follow-up

While I don't want this to become the Slack Plaza blog, I feel I need to link to follow-up stories:

The Charleston Gazette reports this morning: Mayor explains Slack Park ideas to beautification panel
“The first priority is it should be a thoroughfare,” Jones told commission members. “I put council members on the committee because they’re upset. They didn’t realize the trees were going to be cut down.

“One thing they want to do is hire a landscape architect. Council will pay for it. That’s their idea.”

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Committee to help decide the future of Slack Plaza

The Charleston Daily Mail reports Mayor Danny Jones has appointed an 11-member committee to help decide the future of Slack Plaza.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones wants City Council members, county officials and local citizens to pitch ideas to redesign Slack Plaza.

Jones has formed an 11-member committee to deal with the controversial pedestrian thoroughfare between Summers and Laidley streets downtown. He announced the committee's formation during a City Council meeting on Monday.

Jones has long received complaints from citizens and business owners about people lingering at the park, making lewd comments and drinking alcohol.

The plaza was built as part of a pedestrian corridor between Capitol Street and Charleston Town Center. The Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority also has its main downtown bus stop on one side of the plaza.

In January, Jones had strips of metal spikes installed on the park's low stone walls to curb loitering. Jones said he's now hoping for a larger consensus to solve the park's problems.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Slack Plaza tree removal explained by Charleston’s horticultural consultant

In this Charleston Gazette story that ran on Friday, Charleston’s horticultural consultant explains the recent tree removal at Slack Plaza.
It’s an imperfect science, as visitors to Slack Plaza have found. People wonder why city officials last week cut down more than a dozen mature Bradford pear trees there, which otherwise would be blooming in all their spring glory.

As it turns out, Bradfords are weak. As they grow large, their limbs have a habit of breaking off. At Slack Plaza, pear trees planted when the park was built in 1983 or 1984 provided shade for folks who sat on benches and walls.

“It’s amazing no one got hit on the head here,” Vasale said. “We lost so many branches.” He’s been asking the city to remove them for about five years.

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