Metro Council considers allowing taverns at Waterfront Park - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Metro Council considers allowing taverns at Waterfront Park

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Would more food and alcohol bring more people to Waterfront Park?

That's the question facing Metro Council Thursday night as it considers changes along the river.

The council is considering an ordinance that would allow taverns to join the existing restaurants at Waterfont Park.

The Chow Wagon draws big lunch crowds during the Derby Festival, but people we talked to had mixed reactions to the idea of having more permanent food and drink options along the waterfront.

"That would be awesome. I think it would bring a lot more people down here to enjoy," said one downtown worker.

"I pretty much like the waterfront the way it is right now," said another

"I like the idea of it. I think that would make me come down here more," said a third.

Right now, there are two restaurants on Waterfront Park: Joe's Crabshack and Tumbleweed.

Metro Council is considering an ordinance that would allow taverns to move in; places that sell more alcohol than food.

"Mostly it's to allow more opportunities for the people of Louisville to enjoy the park area," said Mike Kimmel, Deputy Director of the Waterfront Development Corp.

Kimmel says the change would not mean bars popping up along the Great Lawn.

He says the Waterfront Development Corp. is targeting areas east of downtown, across from Tumbleweed; and perhaps inside the new Riverpark Place development.

"No, we're not looking to put taverns within the Waterfront Park area itself, said Kimmel.

"I believe it's the wrong decision to make at this time," said District 26 Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson.

Ackerson is concerned that taverns along the waterfront will take business away from 4th St. Live and the area around the YUM Center, and ultimately change the character of the waterfront.

"All of the sudden you can open up a bar on the river, potentially; an area that is for families, an area that's for people to get away from 4th St. and the normal activity of downtown," said Ackerson.

But supporters point out that any new tavern must first get approval from the Waterfront Development Corp.

"We've spent a lot of energy making it a park, and we don't intend to compromise it in any way," said Kimmel.

The Waterfront Development Corp. could potentially benefit from taverns leasing its property, but Kimmel insists money is not the main motivation.

The ordinance comes up for a vote by Metro Council Thursday night.

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