Local donors fund Waterfront Park for 2 years, avoiding parking fees

The city has secured donors for the next two years so that parking can stay free at Waterfront Park.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Several Louisvillians have donated money to keep Waterfront Park public parking free for the next two years.

Popular Waterfront Park hosts more than 150 events a year. The space brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors for festivals like Forecastle and Thunder over Louisville.

The park's popularity is undeniable, but a cut in state funding left its future uncertain.

"When the state ended its financial support for the park in 2014, they had been allocating $420,000 a year to help the general operating budget to help the park. When they stopped that in 2014 that created a funding challenge that had to be addressed,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.

In August, the Waterfront Development Corporation suggested pay-for-parking to help cover costs. The plan was poorly received by many, but leaders said options were limited.

That's when Matthew Barzun took action.

"It really struck me and my wife Brooke that that didn't seem right with everything going on that we would put up barriers to exclusivity so I reached out to family and to friends and they felt the same way and they stepped up,” Barzun said.

"I am happy to say we have reached an agreement to keep public parking free at Waterfront Park,” Fischer said.

The announcement is good news but only for now.

The donors agreed to cover costs for the next two years. After that it's up to the community, they said.

The donors said they are talking about organizing some sort of annual fundraiser concert to pay for the park.

Waterfront officials said they are hoping to work with lawmakers to get some of the funding back. 

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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