Around the corner, "Irish Pete" Leneghan is putting the finishing touches on what close friends are calling his "legacy bar." Stone Mad is a two-and-a-half-year labor of love that often found Leneghan, owner of Tremont's Treehouse bar, on his hands and knees laying acres of gorgeous stone pavers. Inside, skilled craftsmen have constructed two magnificent barrooms, one featuring black walnut, the other floor-to-ceiling oak. A dining room in the rear will serve upscale pub fare.
To encourage conversation, Stone Mad will have no televisions or jukebox, but it will have a sprawling stone patio with water and fire features. An intricate tile mosaic of Leneghan's ancestral town, Ballycroy in County Mayo, brightens up the pub's lower level.
Meanwhile, back here in Brooklyn Centre, as a counterpoint to the good things going on with Pete Leneghan, the board of Art House has passed its third year of stone-walling the neighborhood on the restoration of Wirth House at 3119 Denison. I hear that they have rejected and dismissed, quite recently and arbitrarily, the councilman's offer of help in the restoration of the property and want to proceed with the irresponsible demolition of an historic structure, overriding the objections of the neighbors who gave them the money to be in the restoration business in the first place.
To the best of my knowledge, none of the board members come from the neighborhood, and they have refused for three years to let the neighbors inspect the Wirth House itself. I happen to be one of the "interested parties" of the section 106 historic-property review process, and I can attest to the fact that we have not been allowed to see if the property is as bad as they make it out to be, nor will they stabilize the property so that it's not further wasted. This board seems to think it can't live up to their original compact with the neighborhood, and they also refuse to give back the property or the money we fronted them for it.
Please revisit Craig Bobby's "Where Art Lives...and History Dies" takeoff on the yellow Art House motto to see the building I'm talking about. This inexperienced board is the last tired remnant of the tattered, spotty, sad legacy of former councilwoman Merle Gordon. Merle, I understand, just finished another short job stint, this one at the Cleveland Clinic. Her style no longer plays well (never did, come to think of it), nor does that of this Art House board, and financial power plays using other peoples' government and nonprofit money need to get the closer scrutiny they deserve. We can't afford to let them use our money against us any longer, and to continue to steal our productive time now, as well. I think we need to revisit looking at the books and questioning their stewardship. Things just haven't worked out as advertised originally, and there ought to be some adjustments made for that, before this costs us all still more.