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Just Putt-Puttering Around

February 15, 2011 at 1:55pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Surely a few of you are excited about the possibility of a new miniature golf course on North 48th and Holdrege. Tom Madsen, of Madsen’s Bowling & Billiards fame, would like to replace the underutilized Ecco Park, and it sounds like the City and neighbors are on board. Madsen would probably lease the land from the City so that it could always go back into public hands if things go awry.

And yes, comparisons with Cool Crest are inevitable. That’s unfortunate because there’s no way Madsen can create an experience that lives up to two-decade-old memories of one of Lincoln’s favorite hangouts. At least getting people in the gate won’t be a challenge. Parking, on the other hand, may be.

Lincoln could use a new miniature golf course. Adventure Golf (56th and Old Cheney) is good, but its location doesn’t lend itself to city-wide popularity. The golf at Champions is pretty mediocre, or at least it was the one time I golfed there. That leaves a reasonable opening for Madsen. I just hope he’s able to retain many of the trees currently on the property. One of Adventure Golf’s problems when it first opened was its barrenness.

Drat. Now I want to go mini golfing. Temps are forecast to be in the 50’s today ... I wonder if Adventure Golf is open?

Where* in Lincoln is this?

February 14, 2011 at 2:19pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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*exactly

EDIT: Solved!

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Frank & Simon’s Great Food

February 13, 2011 at 1:12am By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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It looks like several new food establishments are opening up in town this spring. One of them is Frank & Simon’s Great Food.

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The Right to Bike

February 11, 2011 at 8:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Police Chief Tom Casady has some things to say today about the rights of bicyclists in crosswalks. The short story: bicyclists have no rights in crosswalks. See, the law protects pedestrians as “a person afoot”. Bicyclists aren’t “afoot”, thus they are not pedestrians, and therefore they are not entitled to the protections offered to pedestrians. In fact, bicyclists are legally required to yield to vehicles [PDF] (10.48.130). I’ve violated that law ... oh ... at least a few hundred times in my life.

Lincoln’s ordinances are wrong. If Lincoln is going to claim to be a community that prides itself on offering multi-modal transportation opportunities—yes, the City does actively claim that—then bicyclists in a crosswalk must be given priority over vehicles. We may want to consider tweaks because of the obvious differences between persons afoot and persons abike (?!), but for the most part bicyclists should be considered equal to pedestrians.

I haven’t surveyed the Lincoln Municipal Code in depth on this topic, but one hole in the current verbiage presents itself immediately. What about folks in wheelchairs? They aren’t afoot; therefore they aren’t pedestrians; therefore they don’t have the right of way in a crosswalk. Surely that’s not what we want. Where do skateboards fit in to the picture? Or scooters?

We obviously can’t think about all of the possibilities, so I propose this: any person lawfully using a crosswalk, no matter his vehicle or manner of locomotion, should have the same rights as “pedestrians” as they are currently defined. That seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

The more I think about this, the more annoyed I am that you’re only protected in a crosswalk if you’re on foot. It’s silly. Let’s fix this. Any volunteers?

Don’t Judge a Deli By Its Parking Lot

February 11, 2011 at 1:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I don’t know what it is about GNS Plaza on the southeast corner of 48th and Highway 2, but it sure does draw in some great food establishments. The latest is Greta’s Gourmet, an upscale butcher shop and deli. Greta’s has some big shoes to fill, coming after Smokehouse Deli and Midwest Seafood. Jeff Korbelik seems to think it replaces them nicely. That’s good news for me, since I live within easy walking distance.

I’m eager to see how Greta’s does long term. On the one hand its location isn’t exactly what you might expect for a gourmet establishment. But does that matter? Many fantastic businesses around town would tell you that location isn’t everything (Ideal, 9 South, etc.). And besides, opening in a place like GNS Plaza allows Greta’s not to blow their entire budget on rent. Instead, they can put those resources into their store, their product, and their employees. That’s important.

For my purposes Greta’s isn’t the sort of place I’ll visit often, but I know several people who are giddy about the niche it fills. I do know that I want to try some of Greta’s sausages. I’m a sucker for a good sausage. And you know what? This weekend’s warm temperatures may be the perfect time to pull out the grill and try them out. Mmm, I can almost smell summer.

Local Dentists Report Fewer Chipped Teeth

February 10, 2011 at 1:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Mayor Beutler held a pat-on-the-back session yesterday to celebrate far fewer pothole complaints this year than last. Remember last year’s road situation? Yeesh, what a disaster. I don’t drive around the city all that much—that’s one of the perks and downfalls of working from home—but in my limited drive time my experience more or less supports the notion that the pothole situation has improved.

Except on 56th Street between Normal and A Street. Holy dang there were some big ones along that stretch the other day!

Has your experience around the city backed up Beutler’s claim that things are better this year? Or have folks just not been calling the pothole hotline (402-441-7646) with as much vigor in 2011?

Oh by the way, the temps are supposed to be in the 40s and 50s over the next several days. I, for one, plan to celebrate by having a snowball fight while wearing swimming trunks.

The Haymarket Expands South

February 8, 2011 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

As if it weren’t enough that the Haymarket is already set to expand to the west, now you can also plan to watch it go south as well. (Hopefully not in a metaphorical sense!) Telesis—the folks behind Lazlo’s, Fireworks, and Empyrean—plan to renovate the old Meadow Gold building and turn it into a mixed-use facility called The Dairy House.


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I doubt this will be the last development announced south Haymarket—Soha?—over the next couple years. There are several opportunities for growth in that area. For that matter there are oodles of opportunities across all of south Downtown. I know I have several ideas for the area. Too bad I’m short a few million dollars to get them started.

Speaking of Police Cars

February 7, 2011 at 1:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

10/11 did a story on LPD’s new hybrid vehicles and how they’re faring. The short version: they’re faring well, getting between 27 and 40 miles per gallon. That’s not bad when you consider LPD’s fleet average is 12.7 miles per gallon.

Seeing that story made me think about LPD’s overall new look. New uniforms are being introduced, and thanks to a design competition, LPD’s vehicles have a new look. Have you noticed the changes? Do you like them?

I haven’t seen the new uniforms so I can’t provide much feedback there. As for the vehicles, I’m torn. I like the general idea of it—simple black and white—but something about it just doesn’t quite feel complete. Unfortunately my design sense is woefully limited so that’s about the best description I can offer. Style-fu is weak among the Wilsons. Perhaps one of you can help put my feelings into words.

Where in Lincoln is this?

February 7, 2011 at 11:32am By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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EDIT: A hard one.

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The Fiction In My Mind

February 4, 2011 at 1:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I don’t often comment on criminal trials here at Lincolnite. But the Dallas Huston murder trial is just too unusual to pass up.

Huston’s defense is unusual: he invented multiple personalities as an “experiment”, and he fessed up to the crime as part of a “performance” designed to get himself arrested and sent to the Regional Center. Or something like that.

I would love to have been in the room when Huston explained all of this to his attorney. Or how would you like to be on the jury and have to try to understand Huston’s line of thinking?

There’s even more strangeness involved than that, so if you haven’t followed the case you might want to sift through some of the Journal Star’s other stories on the case. I can’t help but think that one of the many cop dramas on television will one day feature a storyline related to this case. It has “made for TV” written all over it.

Move On Down the Road

February 3, 2011 at 1:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I took the family out to Cristina’s last night. Regular readers know that Cristina’s, located in Crete along Highway 33 in the old Wanek’s building, is one of my favorite restaurants. It’s a family-run Mexican restaurant with green chile unlike anything you can get anywhere else around here. And their stuffed empanadas ... wow.

We make the journey to Cristina’s every couple months or so, and once or twice a year I bug them about adding a Lincoln location. Typically their answer has been along the lines of “No no, we’re doing just fine right here”.

Until last night.

Last night after I asked the question there was a pause. She waited to think of a diplomatic answer. Finally she said “A good location is hard to find. Rent is much higher in Lincoln…”, before she allowed her words to fade out. I nearly wet myself with excitement. It sounds like it’s possible that Cristina’s could make its way to Lincoln. That bit of hope will keep me giddy for a while.

As for a location, you know the first place I thought of? The former Paul’s location near 48th and Pioneers. The fact that it’s less than a mile up the road from me doesn’t hurt, but it’s really not a bad spot for a restaurant like Cristina’s. I wonder how much they’re asking for rent…

When Bars Attack

February 1, 2011 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

A couple California consultants have recommended that Lincoln use strict zoning regulations to help prevent West Haymarket from turning into a rowdy, bar-filled war zone. In the consultants’ minds, Lincoln needs to prevent another O Street.

Fair enough. The Downtown area doesn’t really need two O Streets—stretches of bars where the goal is to get drunk. Too much of that sort of thing can be a turn-off to broader audiences. It’s reasonable to not want too much of that sort of activity in a small area.

But do we really need to worry about West Haymarket turning into O Street 2? I don’t think so. We can look at the existing Haymarket to know that different entertainment districts attract very different crowds, and thus very different businesses. O Street is O Street for many reasons, not least of which is its proximity to UNL. It’s a college zone, more or less, particularly at night. The Haymarket, on the other hand, caters to a far more upscale crowd, on average. West Haymarket will be more like the latter and less like the former. Sure, some bars will thrive in the area because of the nature of some of the events that will play at the arena. But they will be buffered by family-friendly fare because, put simply, there will be a demand for such things.

In fact, one need only look at O Street for many examples of how demand affects the nature of businesses. Some bars thrive on O Street as just bars, and good for them. But others have a much different personality during the day—they cater to the fickle Downtown lunch crowd. They swap personalities because it’s good business. There is no reason to expect that Haymarket businesses wouldn’t do the exact same thing: one personality for the Dave Matthews Band crowd, a second personality for Husker basketball crowds, and yet another personality for the Sesame Street Live crowd. Some businesses will be specialists, of course, and that’s just fine. But others will be generalists, because there’s profit to be had there.

Lincoln could go the route of heavy regulation right from the start. It might even work. But that approach is extremely inorganic, and the resultant product will necessarily be stale and unoriginal. If you want stale and unoriginal you can get most of what you’re looking for at SouthPointe. I don’t think that’s what we want from the Haymarket or the greater Downtown area. The area’s various personalities are developing and evolving just fine on their own. Rather than rushing fearfully to solutions without problems, let’s just see how this beast we’re creating grows on its own. Give it twenty years or so. I’ll wager we like what we get.

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