Some fear parking fee will limit access to Waterfront Park

Updated: Aug. 24, 2017 at 6:39 PM EDT
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People from all different walks of life use the park for bicycling, walking, and more. (Source:...
People from all different walks of life use the park for bicycling, walking, and more. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Michael Kimmel (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Michael Kimmel (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Councilman Bill Hollander (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Councilman Bill Hollander (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Parking fees are coming to Waterfront park soon after kiosks are installed in each parking lot.

Waterfront Development Corporation representatives say they need to charge people to park because they lost state funding.

Louisville Metro Councilman Bill Hollander spoke against the charge today, saying a parking fee will limit who can access the park.

People from all different walks of life use Waterfront Park. Bikers, joggers, families, and even salsa dancers all enjoy the free space.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Waterfront Park officials approve parking charge

"It is kind of like a hangout spot," Jay Campbell explained.

For the past four years, Campbell attended the free salsa event that unites dozens of people every Sunday at Waterfront Park.

"Having a family event that is free has been a really big draw," Campbell said.

Now, a fee enforced Wednesday through Sunday will tack on a cost for those who want to park at one of the nine lots at Waterfront Park.

"The parking fees will definitely add up," Denny Hovious said.

Hovious is one of the 2 million people who visit Waterfront Park each year. She rides her bike a few times a week and is not happy with the decision to charge for parking.

"There has got to be funds somewhere," Hovious said.

In 2016, Governor Matt Bevin vetoed a bill that would have provided $420,000 to the park.

Even with the new parking fees, Waterfront Park Development officials say that's not enough to completely cover the lack of state funding.

"There is always the budgetary option of either the state or the city putting more money into the budget," Michael Kimmel said.

Kimmel, Deputy Director of Waterfront Park Development, says Metro Council provided $210,000 for last year's shortfall and that parking fees will cover anticipated shortfalls this year.

"They decided we are going to go ahead and balance our budget by putting it on the backs of the tax payers," Bill Hollander said.

Councilman Bill Hollander says he is most disappointed that public opinion was not considered. Hollander says Metro Council is looking at every option possible to reverse the decision.

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Otherwise, Campbell fears the parking fee will stop free family fun at the waterfront.

"For new events that are happening down here it very well may affect people's decision to have an event like that," Campbell said.

Kimmel says installing the stand-alone kiosks is the most affordable option for the organization to enforce the parking fee. The lots will be free on Monday and Tuesday.

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