Smoketown residents convince city and MSD officials to change design of new sewer basin

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Residents of the Smoketown neighborhood are pushing back to block a sewer basin already under construction.

A few years ago, crews were in the process of building an above-ground sewer basin on Logan Street in Smoketown, but neighbors demanded a redesign.

"I told them that we're not interested in decorating an insult," said Rev. Dr. Bruce Williams, Senior Pastor of Bates Memorial Church, which is the heart of Smoketown. "Just got to the place where enough was enough."

Williams decided to lend his voice to the cause. The tipping point came after MSD had already spent millions and started construction.

"I just remember them saying it was impossible to change," he said. "They were too far along, and it was too cost prohibitive to change. It was impossible."

It turns out it wasn't impossible.

At a ribbon cutting on Tuesday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer told a couple dozen people how the concerns were brought to his attention. After Williams reached out to Fischer and the MSD board, the plan was redesigned.

"We got together, we had a number of community meetings to do a redesign, and it costs us an additional $6 million," said Tony Parrott, Executive Director of MSD. 

After lots of heated exchanges, Smoketown residents helped city officials cut the ribbon and even toured the new underground basin Tuesday.

"The economic benefit and community benefit is well worth it, and I think it was a good thing that we were able to work so collaboratively with the community," Parrott said. "Congratulations to them, those citizens who participated in the process in such a way that brought us to this point."

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