Budget restores state funding to Waterfront Park - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Budget restores state funding to Waterfront Park

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It was a battle, but lawmakers passed a lean budget before wrapping up the 2016 session of the General Assembly.

When the smoke cleared, one Louisville landmark did manage to emerge a winner.

Lawmakers restored full funding to Waterfront Park.

Joeisha Petty brings her two children to Waterfront Park a couple of days a week. “Just because there's so much variety, there's so much to do,” she said. “We can eat right there, we can play right here, walk over there. We got the bridge. It's nice.”

And there's now a better chance the park will stay nice. After going round-and-round in the General Assembly, the Waterfront Development Corporation was able to get its state funding fully restored. “It's real important to get the money back in the budget. We're very excited about it,” said David Karem, president of the Waterfront Development Corp.

Two years ago, lawmakers cut the state's $420,000 contribution to Waterfront Park. That's about 20% of the park's budget. It led the Waterfront Development Corporation to cut expenses and raid funds needed to buy maintenance equipment.

It came at a time when demand was growing, with the opening of the Big Four Bridge. “So, here we're losing funding, and we're having more maintenance to do,” said Karem.

The restored state funding means money for equipment, raises for employees and, perhaps, the eventual return of the two-day July 4 festival. The celebration was canceled in 2014 and reduced to a one-day event last year. “We could see a two-day again,” said Karem.

The park attracts some two million visitors a year, and Karem believes lawmakers understand the park's multi-million economic impact. “It's the front door, for Heaven's sake, to the state of Kentucky in many ways. So, I think legislators got that,” he said.

Joeisha Petty is one who thinks it's worth the investment. “Because it gives the kids something to do instead of getting into negative things. They can come here, have fun, have a good time,” she said.

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