LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – I’ll admit. I've been worried about West Louisville's future for about 20 years. Not just the increasing violence, but the direction of the quality of life and the total lack of any major business investment that would turn it around.
I've never viewed it as just "The West End". To me, it is "West Louisville", another one of our neighborhoods, but one that is in dire condition. Would we let St. Matthews or Middletown get in this shape? No way. There would be outrage and quick action.
But now there is a spark, real movement underway in West Louisville. Have you heard about these meetings that have been held by the “West Louisville Community Council”? One hundred people turned out the other day for a planning meeting, and in my mind, they hit gold.
One of the top ideas from this group, to me, is the way to go: Build a sports complex or the proposed Louisville FC Soccer Stadium there. Both would be a draw that breaks the west end divide, that mindset that prevents people from elsewhere from visiting the area.
But remember, stadiums sit idle and unused for many months of a year.
Someone at the meeting then suggested recreating the old Haymarket that used to sit on the edge of Nulu downtown on Market street. The Haymarket had little restaurants and fresh produce and a huge Christmas tree business.
The one in West Louisville could do the same and be a destination.
I've often wondered why Lexington has the best open-air city farmer's market in the state.
Every Saturday morning until early winter, Lexington shuts down the streets in the heart of its historic district – it’s the state's oldest city – and under a permanent pavilion built by a bank – hundreds of people walk and buy fresh Kentucky eggs, cheese, vegetables, from farmers all over the state. Fresh omelets are cooked up. Downtown Lexington used to be dead. This provided the spark.
A project like that in west Louisville connected to a Haymarket and sporting venue would work, and give Louisville something it doesn't have.
The West Louisville group meets again next month. It's already diverse with people from other neighborhoods, who care.
I've covered a lot of bogus meetings in this city over 30 years, meetings that never went anywhere. But this has something all those others lacked: momentum and drive, and the feeling by everyone that saving West Louisville rides on their backs.
They need support from all of us.