Waterfront Corp. says budget 'not sustainable' without help from - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Waterfront Corp. says budget 'not sustainable' without help from state

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The man in charge of Waterfront Park says it desperately needs more money, but state lawmakers are making no guarantees about providing cash for Louisville's front door.

Lawmakers at the Capitol heard a grim forecast about the future of Waterfront Park if state funding is not restored.

The Forecastle Festival, the Iron Man Triathlon, the Belle of Louisville, the Derby Festival; all have helped make Waterfront Park an international destination.

“The park has been a major economic engine,” said Waterfront development Corporation President David Karem.

That was the good news for lawmakers during a meeting of a House budget review subcommittee.

The bad news is that the park is on the verge of a budget crisis. Two years ago, the state cut funding by more than $400,000 a year -- about 20 percent of its budget.

The corporation says it has already cut spending and dipped into its reserve funds.

“This is not sustainable. We were hopeful that this would be a two-year shortfall, and we would get it re-instated,” said Cordell Lawrence, the corporation’s chief financial officer.

But what exactly does "not sustainable" mean? Will there be staff reductions, or fewer events. Will expansion plans be put on hold?

Karem wouldn't say.

“We are determined that we will maintain this park at the high quality level that it's been maintained from the very beginning, and we're just going to plow ahead. But I believe we have a very good chance at getting some assistance this session,” Karem told WDRB News.

But even park supporters in Frankfort say restoring the funding will be tough when the governor is calling for across the board cuts.

“So, we're going to try to do what we can to help with the funding. I can't make any commitments. With the way the budget is right now, we're going to do the best we can,” said subcommittee chair Jeff Donohue (D-Louisville).

The Waterfront's budget woes were made even worse, recently, when the Gallopalooza program said it may not come through on a $350,000 pledge to help pay for lighting the Big 4 Bridge.

Karem says negotiations with Gallopalooza continue and he believes at least some of that money will come through.

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