Thanks to private donations, residents can continue parking at Waterfront Park for free.

Some prominent Louisville philanthropists have promised $220,000 each year for the next two years to the Waterfront Development Corporation in an effort to keep parking free. The parking charge was proposed after Gov. Matt Bevin cut $420,000 from the corporation’s operating budget.

After WDC’s budget was cut, it raised rental prices and venue prices, made cutbacks and suggested charging $3 for residents to park there. A lot under Interstate 64 already charges residents for parking.

Residents decried the charge, prompting former U.S. Ambassador to Britain, Matthew Barzun, to rally donors.

Kyeland Jackson |

Vehicles line the parking lots of Waterfront Park.

“The mayor joked that I called in favors, and that was not at all what was going on,” Barzun said. “The wonderful and magical part of this little effort that we did was not about favors at all. It was about a shared love of this beautiful space.”

Donors include Emily Bingham, Ned and Nina Bonnie, Christy Brown, Victoire and Owsley Brown III, Gill and Augusta Brown Holland, and others.

Metro Councilman Bill Hollander, D-9, thanked residents for voicing opposition to the parking charge.

“People love this park, and they wanted it to be accessible to everyone every day,” he said. “We found a solution for that park for the meantime, and we will find a solution for it permanently.”

Kyeland Jackson |

A sign for parking under Interstate 64.

WDC President David Karem said the group plans to discuss budgeting solutions with legislators in their next session but will also develop an annual fundraising event to help fund the park.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said a permanent solution could involve a concert or other fundraising event at the park every year.

Disclosure: Gill Holland is a member of the Louisville Public Media Board of Directors.