Karem: Lawmakers pleased, but no promises for Waterfront funding - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Karem: Lawmakers pleased, but no promises for Waterfront funding

An aerial view of the Great Lawn at Waterfront Park. (Source: WAVE 3 News Archives) An aerial view of the Great Lawn at Waterfront Park. (Source: WAVE 3 News Archives)
David Karem (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News) David Karem (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News)
The entrance to the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge at Waterfront Park. (Source: WAVE 3 News Archives) The entrance to the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge at Waterfront Park. (Source: WAVE 3 News Archives)

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Gov. Matt Bevin's proposed two year spending plan provides no money for downtown Louisville's Waterfront Park. But Waterfront Development Corporation director David Karem is "cautiously optimistic" that House members will include his request for $420,000 per year when they present a revised plan for a vote next month. 

"They liked what they heard," said Karem after addressing a budget review subcommittee. 

Waterfront Park received no state money in the last two year budget cycle. The allocation accounted for slightly more than one-fifth of the WDC's operating budget, and forced cancellation of the Independence Day fireworks show in 2014.

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The fireworks resumed this past July 4 after Thorntons Inc. and other benefactors covered costs. The Louisville Orchestra Association has begun fund raising for this Independence Day, but has raised roughly half of the $240,000 projected costs.

"Waterfront Park does not pay for itself," Karem said, "but it is a tourism engine."   

According to Karem, local patrons and tourists visiting April's Thunder Over Louisville fireworks, July's Forecastle Festival and the October's Ironman Louisville Triathlon have pumped more than $120 million into Louisville's economy.

Gov. Bevin's bare bones plan would cut most state spending by 4.5% in the fiscal year ending June 30, and 9 percent in Fiscal Year 2017 and 2018. Expenditures for Medicaid and per-pupil spending for primary and secondary schools would not be affected.  

Bevin would apply any savings toward shoring up shortfalls in the Kentucky Employees Retirement System and the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System. Analysts have determined that both pension funds have only a fraction of the dollars needed to meet current and future obligations.

If the revised plan is approved, the dollars could begin flowing July 1.

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