by Stephanie Crosby
As part of our news initiative “The Next Louisville”, WFPL has been looking into what residents of different parts of town are looking for in the next mayor… the next administration. Today, WFPL has a report on the causes, issues and concerns of residents and business owners in east Louisville.
The east end of Louisville is the most rapidly growing part of the city – or at least it was before the economic downtown – so it’s no surprise development is on the minds of residents there.
At a recent meeting of the East End Sunrise Rotary Club, some residents said they’re concerned about renovating vacant buildings and building codes.
Mark Church spent 13 years in the building industry. He recently got a new job in real estate. When asked what he’s looking for in a new administration, he said a new attitude in the Metro Inspections, Permits and Licenses department, especially when it comes to new development.
“The answer is no until you can prove to me why it should be yes,” says Church. “It’s almost a guilty until proven innocent mindset, we have to prove that it will work and everything will be fine, until then it’s a no answer.”
Church acknowledges that oversight in building and development is generally good, but he says in his dealings with the Metro IPL office left a bad taste in his mouth and led him to believe the department was anti-development.
Another Rotary member, John Lina, says he’s looking for a new city leader who can develop a plan for road projects in the eastern part of the city. He’s a retired business owner who moved to east Louisville in 1992.
“Nobody’s looking out ahead,” says Lina. “In 20 years, that area east of 265 has added 100% of the people that live there in 20 years and it’s a lot of people now to try to get in and out.”
Lina says parts of Louisville that were once under the jurisdiction of Jefferson County government have seen huge growth levels in the last two decades – and those cow paths that used to run from one farm to the next have been paved, but no one has thought about whether those are the best routes.
“Now the county is being populated, and we’ve got an opportunity to take care of the right-angle turns and the discontinuities of the roads by doing a plan that will lay out a road structure that will allow for development,” he says.
Lina says part of the problem has been coordination between city, state, and federal governments in planning major roads, and between Metro and small city governments in planning some local roads.
The communication issue resonates with Becky Ricketts.
“When they merged, sometimes the word merge got left out of some of those things,” says Ricketts, “and not just in the east end, I’m looking at all the areas of town.”
Ricketts is a resident of Lyndon and a member of the city council. One of her big concerns is vacant buildings and a lack of input on building projects before they’re approved by Metro Government.
She also wants to work with contractors willing to renovate old structures instead of building new ones when possible. But at the heart of her complaint, and extending to other concerns from other Rotary members, is the post-merger relationship between Metro government and small cities.
It’s a hard one to juggle because most small cities are fiercely independent, and Ricketts says that’s understandable – but not always helpful.
“If we could all just get together and be a happy family and help each other out, instead of the ‘us’ and ‘them’,” says Ricketts. “It works so much better if it’s not so much ‘us’ and ‘them’, and I guess it’s been ‘us’ and them’ since the beginning of history.”
Ricketts is hopeful a new mayor and a new administration will mean another step away from old city-county attitudes, and a step toward working together to solve issues surrounding suburban sprawl.