LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Louisville Metro Council members zeroed in again Tuesday on a controversial claim in the Breonna Taylor case: the redevelopment of Elliott Avenue. The Government Oversight Committee pressed city officials on how Elliott Avenue came to be the focus of several different departments, ultimately the target of a new Louisville Metro Police Department unit called Place Based Investigations.
“I’m struggling to figure out how this wasn’t anything but driven by development,” Councilman Anthony Piagentini said.
Claims made in Taylor’s family’s lawsuit painted a picture that the city wanted her ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, out of 2424 Elliott Avenue in order for new development to come in.
“It may get an ‘A’ in creative writing class but it flunks on the facts,” Louisville Forward Chief Mary Ellen Wiederwohl said.
She says any claims of gentrification are false and that the sole purpose was to build permanent affordable housing in west Louisville.
“Were there redevelopment and revitalization efforts on Elliott Avenue? Absolutely,” Wiederwohl asserted. “If we weren’t here having this discussion, and if the tragedy had not occurred and if we hadn’t been working on Elliott Avenue, I think frankly members of this committee and members of the council would be asking us why aren’t we working on Elliott.”
With over 60% vacancy and at least six homicides in six years, Wiederwohl laid out the reasons why the departments in question were already working to find solutions for the blighted blocks.
“This is absolutely where we should be concentrating our resources, because who of us on this screen would want to live on Elliott Avenue?” Wiederwohl asked. “All we’re trying to do, all this team is trying to do, is create a block there where people will want to live where families will want to raise their children.”
Wiederwohl also broke down what a place-based initiative looks like.
“There’s a criminal aspect to it and getting the violence off those blocks, but the long play, in the place where our organization would have been more involved obviously, is where we were already working which is to gain site control for those troublesome properties,” she said.
Wiederwohl also pointed out the LMPD Place Based Investigations aspect of had not had time to get off the ground before Taylor’s death on March 13. Taylor, 26, was shot dead when Louisville Metro Police Department officers served a narcotics warrant at her home.