A May 28 article in the Courier-Journal by Sheldon Shafer about Jerry Abramson’s spending has raised tons of questions.
I’m sure you all remember when Ward Plauche and crew had to shutter the doors of CityBlock because Metro Government wouldn’t work with them so they could stay in business. So we won’t rehash all of that. (Click here, here & here for more on the story, if you’re so inclined.)
I’ll just be straightforward. Read this excerpt from Shafer’s story:
The budget did receive a boost with several million dollars being available from unspent proceeds from old bond issues.
For instance, $1.8million was available from a bond issue sold years ago to help finance the Marriott Louisville Downtown hotel. Of that, Abramson proposed spending $850,000 for a pedestrian bridge over Sixth Street connecting the Muhammad Ali Center plaza with the Riverfront Plaza/Belvedere. The bridge would develop a “Waterfront Walk,” as Abramson described it, connecting the Ali Center on the west with the downtown arena on the east.
Ali Center President Greg Roberts said, “Having the Sixth Street pedway connect the Belvedere to the Ali Center plaza would be enormous for us, for the downtown, and for the visitors to our city. And with the new arena opening soon, this would be a positive step in offering accessible options for increased pedestrians downtown.”
Other projects Abramson proposed funding with the leftover Marriott proceeds include $200,000 to repair the elevators from the Belvedere to the wharf and $750,000 for landscaping and streetscape improvements along Second Street and other areas near the arena.
Remember when the CityBlock folks met with Traughber to petition for usage of funds? Remember when Traughber said everything was exhausted? And what little bit of funds were available, they were dedicated to Merlot’s and redevelopment by Cordish? Yeah. Boggles the mind, I know.
So, is there really money left over? If so, how would anybody know? It’s odd to say everything’s gone a year ago… and suddenly tons of cash just happens to be ripe for spending.
If these funds have been available, it would seem that Abramson and crew purposefully let CityBlock close after 19 years.
I can’t believe no one else is scratching their heads over this mess. Cause it seems to me Jerry’s out-of-town friends got all the money they needed, for free, and local businesses couldn’t even get loans to remain in operation.