Mayor Fischer looks back at a tumultuous 2016
Mayor Greg Fischer called 2016 “fascinating” amid both good and bad events that happened throughout the year.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer called 2016 “fascinating,” amid both good and bad events that happened throughout the year.
First elected back in 2010, Mayor Fischer looked back on the year in Louisville on Thursday morning, including events like the death of Muhammad Ali as well as a spike in violent crime.
“The thing that we did right that was on a global stage was the whole week of Muhammad Ali's passing,” Fischer said. “I was so proud of the way our city came together that week.”
Fischer also cited several construction projects, both completed and started in 2016, as a sign that Louisville is “going through a renaissance.”
“Twenty-three hotels under construction, expansion of the convention center, the Omni is changing our skyline ... All of those are on budget and on time,” Fischer said. “It's hard not to see the progress when you're going around town.”
Fischer also mentioned the Ohio River Bridge projects completion and the possible economic boost they can provide. However, he also addressed what didn’t go well in 2016.
“Public safety for me is the last thing I think about before I go to sleep and the first thing I think about in the morning,” he said.
With a record number of homicides for the city, Fischer admitted that violent crime has become a problem for Louisville.
“If you live in a neighborhood with violent crime and you hear gunshots going off, that's an unacceptable situation in our city,” he said. “What they can always expect to see is relentless effort and adjustment to what we learn. Anybody who will sit in a chair and say this problem will be solved by this date doesn't know what they're talking about.”
Earlier this month, Fischer announced a plan to pour more than $2 million into crime fighting efforts.
“It is a very difficult situation that involves illegal drugs, guns [and] gangs fighting over turf," he said. "If you're not involved in this, you're probably not going to be touched by this, but it's a very troubling issue."
Mayor Fischer also addressed concerns about the KFC Yum! Center. The arena has received lower-than-expected returns from a tax increment financing district near the Yum! Center, and the arena authority has struggled at times to make debt payments. Those payments are set to increase, from the $22.3 million in principal and interest owned during the year ending Dec. 1, 2015, to a peak of $37 million in 2029.
“The arena authority is not in trouble. There is plenty of time to resolve this issue,” Fischer said. “It was made into a bigger deal than what it was, frankly. It's not like there is some looming deadline in the next couple of months where this thing is going to fall apart.”
Fischer touted a recent announcement of a $29.5 million grant for the Russell neighborhood. It's part of Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with much of the focus on the Beecher Terrace apartments and its revitalization.
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