City funding earmarked for expanded gym in California neighborhood

City funding earmarked for expanded gym in California neighborhood
Published: Jun. 12, 2023 at 4:02 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - There are less than two weeks now for Metro Council to review Mayor Craig Greenberg’s first city budget. One line that’s drawing attention is a plan to borrow $5 million and give it to the Family Life Center at St. Stephen Baptist Church in West Louisville.

The plan is to build a new college regulation size basketball court and expanded community center. Greenberg campaigned on investing in underfunded communities.

This vision to expand the Family Life Center could become a reality if the council approves the project. But critics say the money could be better spent elsewhere.

“They’re willing to put $5 million into the California neighborhood but they’re not willing to do it via the parks and recreation budget,” Change Today Change Tomorrow Executive Director Taylor Ryan said. She said if the city wants to borrow $5 million bucks, it should spend the money directly on city projects.

“The California Park is in desperate need of reinvestment,” Ryan said, “the California Community Center is in desperate need of reinvestment.”

Greenberg ran on reinvesting across the city.

“Our city is in great need of repair, it’s in need of repair, revitalization, unity, energy,” Greenberg said after winning his primary election.

But the mayor’s plan doesn’t take away money from the parks budget. The gym project was put there just because the city’s budget process requires every project to be assigned to a department.

Kevin Traeger, a spokesperson for Mayor Greenberg, said in part: “We’re excited to see the facility expand with a new community center and gymnasium. As the new home for Simmons College’s basketball teams, it will help our city’s only HBCU grow, while also supporting other important community organizations..”

District 4 Metro Council member Jecorey Arthur said the city plans to borrow $1.2 million for deferred maintenance in the parks. Part of that money will be geared toward a new HVAC system at the California Community Center.

Family Life Center Chairman Ken Jobst sent a statement saying, “We at The Family Life Center are excited to see this project moving from vision to reality, as we continue our 34 year tradition of resourcing the individuals and institutions that are working together to build a brighter future.”

The city will discuss the parks budget Wednesday. A final vote on the budget is set for June 22.