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The dream team is a loose confederation of business owners, elected officials, and concerned citizens from all points of the South End. There are no membership rolls because it’s an all-volunteer organization, so people tend to come and go depending on their availability. An 11-member board of directors coordinate the group’s activities. The board includes: Bennett Knox, park manager at Jefferson Memorial Forest; Patti Lynn, site manager atFarnsley-Moremen Landing; and Benjamin Hill of Benjamin Hill Consulting, among others. Metro Councilwoman Vicki Aubrey Welch (D-13) sits on the group’s cultural committee.
On July 16, the Southwest Dream Team took the first step toward erasing the Kohl’s episode from its collective memory. Dream team members joined other community leaders and political officials in the Southwest Government Center, 7219 Dixie Hwy., to celebrate phase one of the Dixie Highway Corridor Master Plan, a $5 million beautification project between Crums and Rockford lanes. The improvements include adding 10-foot sidewalks, bigger medians, and better signage and stoplights. Groundbreaking is expected to take place in 2013.
The Dixie Highway Corridor Master Plan is the result of the Southwest Dream Team’s unprecedented two-year collaboration with local and state government. The dream team funded a study geared toward modernizing Dixie Highway. The group concluded that the project would cost about $35 million. Metro Councilman Rick Blackwell (D-12) knew that the state would never agree to fund the whole amount, so he suggested that the plan be broken up into phases. Blackwell then passed the study along to state Rep. Joni Jenkins (D-HD 44). She and state Rep. Charlie Miller (D-28), and state Sen. Perry Clark (D-37) shepherded the project through the state legislature and Gov. Steve Beshear put it in the budget.
“This was as close to a shovel ready project as you can get,” Jenkins says. “Usually with a project like this, you start by doing a study. But the (Southwest Dream Team) had already paid for a study. That made it easier for us to support it.”
Jarboe says that past South End economic development efforts were hampered because the community did not form a united front. Jarboe, who lives in Hikes Point, owns a State Farm Insurance Agency at 5101 New Cut Road. He also grew up in Pleasure Ridge Park and graduated from PRP High School, where Rep. Miller was his school principal. As a former president of the Iroquois Area Business Association, Jarboe knows that community rivalries can impede projects that would benefit the whole area.