Metro officials: Water park only at Kentucky Kingdom too risky for taxpayers

By Connie Leonard - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – It is a major source of entertainment for Louisville Metro and a tourist attraction for Kentuckiana and beyond. But right now, the city is saying no to a $20 million bond issue that could open the gates at Kentucky Kingdom.

The park shut down in February 2010 when Six Flags, Inc. opted out of its lease. But the question the community has been asking is when will Kentucky Kingdom reopen? The answer is not anytime soon.

City officials tell us the $20 million bond issue needed to reopen a scaled back Kentucky Kingdom, basically an upscale water park, is too big of a risk for taxpayers.

"It's very important to get the park back open as soon as possible, since it's a big summer employer," said Chris Poynter, deputy director of communications for Mayor Greg Fischer.

Poynter says considering the city is facing its own big budget shortfall, it doesn't make sense to be all alone on the park right now especially because Kentucky Kingdom operates on state property with private investors.

Metro Council President Jim King (D-District 10) tells us the $50 million deal has changed many times. First, King says the state share was supposed to be $40 million and the city would add $10 million. Then, King says it changed to $30 million for the state, $20 million for the city. But when the Kentucky General Assembly did not take it up recently, King says giving $20 million to reopen as a water park only just didn't add up financially for the city.

So, what's next? King says Metro Government needs a strategy for the next legislative session.

Ed Hart, the man with the challenge of getting the park open again, has said he is disappointed. Hart has a press conference scheduled for Wednesday morning.

We asked for your opinion on our WAVE 3 Facebook page and this is what you're telling us.

Roseanne said, "It's everything to drive the tourists to Indiana and Nothing to entertain them in Kentucky."

Jeff said, "Might as well tear it down."

Stephanie said, "That stinks! My kids will be grown before they get that place reopened."

And Dennis indicated, all the money will be headed up the road to Cincinnati and the city's big water park at Great Wolf Lodge.

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