New Albany’s Fork in the Road to fall victim to HWC’s whitewashed and IKEA-inspired design.


Work began yesterday on the latest downtown beautification project, the fundamental problems with which I summarized last July in a post that is repeated below (with links to other thoughts).

When the city’s plans were revealed amid Terry Middleton’s foyer in 2018, HWC’s campaign finance donor luminaries had suggested relocating David Thrasher’s seminal Fork in the Road to the sidewalk in front of the Jimmy’s Music Center building. Now I’m told by a Team Gahan insider that our drain trust hasn’t decided where to put it, and would welcome ideas.


Since when do they welcome ideas? Property owners fronting the Market Street block currently undergoing forced “beautification” never were asked their views on the process before the plans were minted, were they?

Why now?

Listen up: Since Thrasher’s fork was installed circa 2012, it has been mildly divisive. Many observers, including a disproportionate percentage of disaffected older white males bearing purely literal imaginations, have expressed derision. Others with minds somewhat more open to whimsy have flocked to the Fork for selfies.

And this division of opinion is exactly the point. 

Art should prompt discussion, even at the risk of venom and incomprehension. We know that Jeff Gahan’s personal preferences run to Dogs Playing Poker and Velvet Elvis; fine, and it’s a free country, but public art is something quite different.

IKEA-inspired design versus the Fork in the Road? Here’s a chance for the clothes-free emperor to intervene in the cloistered design process and urge a rethink.

Whaddya say, Deaf?

We’re told that peak inner city suburban Gahanism on Market Street will be delayed. (July 17, 2018)

At this morning’s merchant meeting, attendees were told by the city’s business coordinator Tonya Fischer that the recently ballyhooed Market Street “facelift” between Pearl and State will not be finished before Harvest Homecoming. Rather, it is to begin afterward.

She hinted that burrowed deeply somewhere in the shadowy labyrinth of Jeff Gahan’s down-low bunker, there’d been second thoughts about the final configuration of this expenditure with money donated by the Horseshoe Foundation.

One might hope, but Team Gahan doesn’t take well to critiques or criticism, and my guess is it’s about bad timing with regard to the annual festival.

But let’s make no mistake. Nothing I’ve seen lately epitomizes the city’s gorwing problem with “institutional inbreeding” quite as grandly as HWC Engineering’s (who else?) hilarious mock-ups of this project, a Disney-meets-outlet mall pastiche of anti-urban design elements reflecting the emperor’s perennial tastelessness as well as the apparent absence of integrity among staffers placed in charge of preserving an asinine median, adding a car-centric turn lane to westbound Market (which barely registers vehicular traffic), felling any and all nearby trees, truncating the sidewalk on the northern side, adding IKEA chairs and hideous commemorative median “art,” then boldly declaring victory for pedestrians in a setting that has been “upgraded” for drivers alone.

Even George Orwell might register a guffaw at the sheer mindlessness of it. What’s more, amid the comedy of the mayor’s loyal kept Republican (David Barksdale) wrestling with the city engineer for control of the project on behalf of the redevelopment commission so he could ensure that all existing trees were designated for removal — it’s gotta be a fetish, folks, the dude who hates trees sitting on the Tree Board — there was the fact that all the money was slotted for the north side of the street, and none at all on the south side, where two completely restored older buildings are about open for business.

It’s the same closed-loop people making the same moribund and template-inspired decisions with the same continuing obligation to connect the dots between contract winners and the mayor’s campaign finance war chest; currently they are completely exhausted of any semblance of creativity, and unfortunately, it shows.

We’ll have to abide these cumulative design mistakes for decades, scraping to pay for genuinely useful improvements because there’ll be nothing left in the till that isn’t committed to the Reisz Mahal, the Summit Springs Mudslide & Fun Park and a parks department with a budget exceeding that of some postage stamp principalities.

There’s an answer: FireGahan2019. Catch up with the lunacy via these links:

SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Umbrageous boughs? Not on Market between Pearl and State.

Peak inner city suburban Gahanism as HWC recommends buying IKEA when two local furniture dealers are yards away from the redesign atrocity.

Peak inner city suburban Gahanism via faux “input,” pre-determined outcomes, clear-cutting, IKEA chairs and raging HWC paranoia. Welcome to your “improved” Market Street.

Goodbye to the Fork in the Road, hello to “Mayor Jeff Gahan presents, “A Fork Amid the Sidewalk” — and fork YOU if you don’t obey.