Fourth of July, Riverboat festivals on waterfront in jeopardy - News, Weather & Sports

Fourth of July, Riverboat festivals on waterfront in jeopardy

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Waterfront Park Waterfront Park
David Karem David Karem

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Two festivals on Louisville's waterfront are in jeopardy unless the city or private donors contribute more money, event organizers said Wednesday.

Waterfront Development Corporation officials plan to cancel the Independence Day festival, scheduled for July 3 and 4, and significantly scale back the Centennial Festival of Riverboats planned for October.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Events in jeopardy after Waterfront Park cut from Commonwealth's budget]

The cost-cutting comes after state lawmakers voted to strip $420,800 a year from the corporation, an amount that equals 18 percent of the group's budget, Waterfront Development Corporation President David Karem said.

"Those are two things that came immediately onto the radar screen," Karem said. "Obviously, there will be other things -- we will have to go through the budget and decide on additional budget cuts."

Forecastle, Ironman and the Kentucky Derby Festivals aren't affected for now because they turn a profit, while the Fourth of July and Riverboat events don't, Karem said.

During budget negotiations over the weekend, state lawmakers focused on projects that had a statewide impact and decided Louisville's waterfront wasn't one of them.

"I'm very sorry," said Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville. "This is the first year in a long time the waterfront didn't get funded."

Clark and Sen. Katie Stine, R-Southgate, were two of the negotiations who worked out a budget agreement. Quasi-government agencies like the Waterfront Development Corporation lack oversight, Stine said.

"I think these people need to come and make their case," she said, adding that she hadn't heard from Louisville waterfront officials. " I think us handing out the people's money to these private entities that are not accountable to the people is not appropriate."

The state budget awaits Gov. Steve Beshear's signature.

The cuts won't affect a recent decision to install surveillance cameras in Waterfront Park because Metro government is paying the $227,000 cost.

Karem vowed to keep a second security guard in the park. Waterfront officials agreed last week to pay for the extra security, which will cost between $25,000 and $30,000 a year.

"No, no," Karem said, when asked whether the guard position would be cut. "I don't think we can possibly do that."

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