In a statement released today by Martin & Bailey, Inc., the proposed Huck's gas station has withdrawn their application to develop the property located at the corner of North Friendship Road and Alben Barkley Drive. The proposed site was the former Guy Gray building located next door to LOTUS, the child advocacy and sexual assault resource center.
The company said they had no intention of building a truck-stop for large semi-trucks. The proposed Huck's market was to be a 'beautiful store, creating 40 or more good paying jobs and offering the neighborhood the facility it deserves.'
Due to the 'overwhelming campaign against our application to develop a Huck's Market on this site' Martin & Bailey are rescinding its application for Conditional Use of the property.
LOTUS and others in the community came together and voiced their concern for the proposed Huck's Market due to the environmental, health, and safety impacts on those served. Nearly 1,500 signatures were gathered during the campaign to halt the development of the property.
To read the letter from Huck's representatives in its entirety, read below.
The Power in Partnership breakfast sponsored by the Paducah-McCracken County NAACP Chapter and McCracken County Community Career Endowment featured former Paducah native Brent Leggs. His presentation on historical marker preservation of black heritage was incredible. The history behind the storyline is both remarkable and concerning. Remarkable in that the black community has such an incredible story to tell that still remains to be told. Concerning because it still remains to be told.
Opening remarks at today's breakfast were given by Paducah Chamber President and CEO Sandra Wilson. After a brief presentation on upcoming meetings, she introduced the 2021 Paducah Chamber Chair and President of WKCTC Dr. Anton Reese.
Dr. Reese discussed 'regular business' and then proceeded to 'speak from the heart'. He said that he approaches everyday promoting diversity, inclusiveness. and education for all. He said 25% of our Paducah community is black and he has two goals in mind as chamber chair. The first is to have more diverse businesses join the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce. The second is to form an advisory group of black and Hispanic representatives to help guide his tenure as chair of the Chamber.
Next, was the slide presentation from Leggs. Brent Leggs is the Executive Director of the African American Cultural heritage Action Fund for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He shares the story of activists, entrepreneurs, artists and civic leaders who advocate on behalf of African American historic places.
He's a Harvard University Loeb Fellow and author of "Preserving African American Historic sites by The Smithsonian Institute. " Leggs is also the 2018 recipient of the Robert G. Staton National Preservation Award.
During his presentation, Leggs discussed the "quiet power of preservation." He shared that he became interested in architectural history after having a casual conversation about it with a colleague. After which he enrolled in the school of architecture. Later, he would be asked to get involved in researching and recording black historical monuments.
This is where he uncovered the Rosenwald schools. Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee graduate and American educator and Julius Rosenwald, American businessman and philanthropist created a fund that built 5,000 Rosenwald schools. The schools were distributed in 15 states throughout the south. In Kentucky, 158 were built and 41 are standing today. One of the Rosenwald schools is located in Paducah on Poole Street named Woodland Schools.
Leggs shared other interesting and concerning facts such as of the 100,000 sites registered with the National Registry of Historic Places only 2% reflect the black experience in American history. He said 'the black community is fighting for recognition of their contributions to our nation.'
For more information on Leggs follow his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/brent.leggs
The Paducah Planning Commission met Monday evening to discuss a proposal for a Huck’s convenience store that would be located at the corner of Alben Barkley Drive and Friendship Road. Formerly the Guy Gray Supply Company location, the proposed service station would reside across the street form WKCTC, Ceglinski Animal Clinic, and next door to LOTUS Children’s Advocacy and Sexual Violence Resource Center.
At a previous meeting, the commission asked the developers Martin & Bailey, Inc. to perform a traffic study of the area. As of this meeting, the traffic study hadn’t been completed.
At last night's virtual meeting, there were several local residents and a LOTUS representative on hand. Each wanted to discuss the negative impact a large service station would have on the area.
Representatives of Martin & Bailey weren’t on the call. Acknowledgment of the missing participants wouldn’t be discovered until later in the conversation.
One of the neighborhood residents against the project is Jill Love. Her home is located behind the proposed Huck’s service station. She said that because Huck’s would be operating 24 hours a day, “they (Huck's) want to be able to accommodate trucks causing more havoc on our environment, and our peace, and our quiet.” Love continued, “A 24-hour Huck’s doesn’t fit the neighborhood.”
Lotus Executive Director Lori Brown said the center has spent millions over the past three years expanding their services that include an outdoor sanctuary project funded by a state grant. Many of the clients at LOTUS have PTSD and loud noises can trigger events. LOTUS started a petition more than a week ago, “Save our sanctuary: Stop the proposed Huck’s Food and Fuel Station.” The petition is on Change.org.
On the petition, the opening statement reads:
The proposed Huck's Food and Fuel Station at the intersection of Alben Barkley Drive and Friendship Road in Paducah, Kentucky will have a negative impact on the quality of life of residents and clients of Lotus Children's Advocacy and Sexual Violence Resource Center, which is located adjacent to the proposed site for the gas station. We need your help in ensuring a sanctuary of safety, comfort, and healing for countless survivors and families in this community now and for years to come!
As mentioned, representatives for the Huck’s service station weren’t online for this particular Paducah Planning Commission meeting. Interestingly, Huck’s funds a charity for children called Karing for Kids. Huck’s charitable foundation gives annually to children in need. One of their projects is to give kids a great Christmas by buying gifts for those who might not otherwise receive one. Other charitable gift giving includes children cancer treatments, backpack programs, and St. Jude scholarships.
At Monday’s meeting, Paul Bradford, Paducah Planning Commissioner, motioned to remove the proposed project from the table and the motion passed in a 4 - 3 vote. As soon as it was discovered that Huck’s representatives weren’t on the call, the matter was moved back on the table. Bradford said he would like to have them on the next call because he wants it to be removed from the table with or without the traffic study.
The plan is to revisit the issue at the next meeting on February 15.