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Kentucky lawmakers invest $10 million into Waterfront Park expansion

The expansion will revitalize Louisville's West End and improve access to green spaces while reconnecting more then 12,000 people to the river.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — State lawmakers joined Louisville leaders Thursday to visit the site of Waterfront Park's expansion into the West End.

The Kentucky General Assembly allocated $10 million to support the project during the 2022 session. It's a mission to improve green space and connect more than 12,000 residents to the river. 

The fourth phase of the project, which is set to begin this fall, will extend Waterfront Park another 22 acres between 10th and 14th streets in the Portland neighborhood.

"As Louisville goes, so goes Kentucky," Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said. "As a collective legislative body, the General Assembly is supporting Louisville because the successes we help create here are a rising tide that lifts all ships."

Credit: ourwaterfront.org
Conceptual Rendering of the Waterfront Park Phase IV Expansion.

One component of the project, known as "Playworks at Waterfront Park," is in partnership with the Kentucky Science Center and will build an outdoor learning area to provide an environment for children to create, learn and explore.

State Senators, Metro leaders and the Waterfront Park Development Corporation met on the Big Four Lawn to discuss the expansion west. 

A smaller group of senators toured the project site, under Interstate 64, before Thursday's press conference.

Credit: WHAS11
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers (far left), Waterfront Park Executive Director Deborah Bilitski (second from left), and Kentucky Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams (middle), tour the Phase IV site.

Waterfront Park Executive Director Deborah Bilitski said the Playworks area and a revitalized walking/biking path are 100% happening. Other specifics of the project may change.

"Our children are the future for Louisville and this expansion will improve their quality of life," Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, said.

With $10 million in state funding, $10 million in city funding and $6 million raised by the Waterfront Park group, the collective has raised 26 of the 50 million for the entire expansion.

"A strong West End is a strong Louisville," Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, said. "With this park being extended into the district the way it is, this is very important for how we move forward."

Louisville's Waterfront Park currently spans 85 acres along the Ohio River. 

The first three phases of the park took more than two decades to complete. It included the Great Lawn, walking paths, Brown-Forman Amphitheater and lawn and the iconic Big Four Lawn.

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