LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- A ribbon-cutting ceremony in Louisville’s Smoketown neighborhood marked a big victory for the community that’s seen one of its best years.
It’s a small community, with a rich history. One that hasn't always been easy.
"The people here are resilient. The people here are proud people, they love their community, and as a consequence of that--even though there's been a struggle," Pastor F. Bruce Williams of Bates Memorial Church said.
The neighborhood is next to downtown Louisville, nestled between Broadway and the Highlands. At points it’s been a hot spot for violence and drugs, that’s part of why community leaders call this comeback an uphill battle.
But as this year comes to close, it’s a win worth recognizing.
"The community now really believes in itself, in a way is going to make a difference from this point on," Williams said.
When three new liquor stores applied for licenses within community lines, neighborhood leaders spoke up. All three were denied licenses on a local level, and when two appealed to the state, one was denied, the other changed plans to become a grocery store.
"After a while you know, enough is enough. And just your sense of dignity and self-worth kicks in and you just don't want to settle anymore," Williams said.
Also new this year, inspirational pictures posted on top of old cigarette ads. One on the wall of Shirley Mae’s recognizes the local restaurant owner and the piece of poetry her business inspired.
Williams said,"Much of that new signage features people in our community and messages that poets and writers have come up with that have a positive message so that when people walk around the community, especially residents here, they're not constantly confronted by negativity."
But perhaps the biggest win of them all was finalized Tuesday. It’s a project the neighborhood fought for, for years.
A brand new MSD basin on Logan Street. But more importantly, the grassy park area above it.
"This would've been a big mistake here if this was an above ground basin in our city," Mayor Greg Fischer said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The plan was originally proposed as an above ground basin, nearly a block of building.
Neighbors say they were told that was their only option. But they did the research and learned below ground basins were common in Kentuckiana.
They wrote letters, descended upon public meetings and made sure their voices were heard. After a year, MSD board members revised the plans and built a below ground basin, with a grassy area for a neighborhood park.
"It’s really not a mystery what Smoketown wants. Smoketown wants what any community wants, it wants the best it can have, it deserves the best," Williams said.
Today they say that's what they're getting and not only what they want, but what they deserve.
"Smoketown's on the rise," Williams said.