I live in Downtown Covington, Kentucky and on most days, I go for a walk. On most of those days, I walk past the Madison Theater on Madison Avenue. Now I think this theater is vital to Downtown Covington—one of the biggest assets we have in the area. Having said that, it hasn’t been a pleasure walking by it lately.
To the right of the theater, there’s a big old pot where, in the spring and summer, there are usually flowers growing. That’s not the case in the fall and winter. During these months, patrons of the Madison Theater turn it into a big old ashtray.
When I walk by it, and I’m not the only one walking by it, it looks disgusting. At the beginning of last week, it was loaded with cigarette butts. At the end of last week, the pot was not only loaded with cigarette butts, but also empty cigarette packs and soda cans. In fact, all of the sidewalk in front of the Madison Theater is, in a word, disgusting.
This past Friday, I decided to call the Madison Theater and voice a complaint. Tom (he wouldn’t give me a last name) answered the phone and I told him what I thought.
“We clean it out (the pot) at the end of every week,” he said. I know that’s not true, but I kept my mouth shut.
“It’s an eyesore,” I replied.
“You want to talk to somebody about it?” He asked.
“Yes. That’s the reason for the call,” I replied.
A few seconds later, Esther Johnson, the owner of the Madison Theater, was on the phone with me. We’ve talked before—I am a writer after all—but this time I was calling as a resident of the area.
“We’ve had a lot of shows lately,” Johnson said. “You should have seen the cigarette butts there last week!”
“I try to put flowers in that pot every spring,” Johnson continued. “I try to keep it nice, but, you know, I’m dealing with the public here. It can be a struggle.”
We talked a little bit about the fact that those city workers who used to clean the city’s sidewalks are now gone and the city is paying the price for it, namely looking dirty. Johnson agrees, but. . .
“The City of Covington wanted to charge us $500,000 to keep the sidewalks clean,” Johnson says. “Businesses up and down Madison Avenue know it doesn’t cost half a million dollars a year to do that.”
Johnson promises cleaner days ahead. “It will look a whole lot better in another week,” she says.
I’m looking forward to the sidewalk cleanup and I will follow up to see if it happens—both as a writer and as a Downtown Covington resident.The Madison Theater needs to look like a theater and not a garbage dump.
(Photo of Madison Theater from flickriver.com. Photo of ugly cigarettes butts from WordPress)