In this episode of ‘Russell on the Move,’ Kevin Fields, Sr. and Herbert Johnson, along with guests Deborah Biliski, Executive Director of Waterfront Development Corporation and Johnetta Roberts, owner of 40 & 1 Company, shed light on several key themes centered around community empowerment and development in Louisville, particularly regarding the Waterfront Park expansion. Here’s a few emerging themes from the podcast that stands emblematic of communal harmony and growth.
Community Engagement and Empowerment:
Fields’s segment stresses the importance of community involvement, signified by the ‘Complete Makeover Theater Edition.’ Leveraging support from various sectors, including trades councils and UPS, the project emphasizes communal effort for upliftment. Community engagement was emphasized, with both the efforts to involve local residents in the development of the park.
Economic Development Initiatives:
The expansion of Waterfront Park is not merely an infrastructural project but a catalyst for socio-economic transformation. Dubbed ‘Phase Four,’ this initiative is expected to be transformational, similar to what the first three phases accomplished for East Downtown Louisville, turning an industrial wasteland into a cherished public space that spurred economic activity. and the broader strategy of economic empowerment being highlighted. The project is seen as a driver for significant economic development initiatives, potentially transforming the local economy and fostering social change.
Cultural and Historical Significance:
The location of the Waterfront Park, especially the areas between 10th and 14th streets along the river, is steeped in history. The podcast underlines the intention to weave storytelling into its development to celebrate the city’s past. The cultural and historical significance of the expansion was noted, with the planned area’s rich heritage serving as a backdrop for development that honors the community’s past while looking towards the future.
Fostering Economic and Social Change:
Fields envisions the park expansion west of 9th street, reaching out to neighborhoods like Portland and Russell, helping address economic disparities in West Louisville. The guests on the show align with the purpose of using the park as a beacon for wider community and economic advancement. When discussing diversity and inclusion in development, the conversation focused on the outreach to local residents and stakeholders, aiming to ensure that the project reflects the needs and wants of a diverse community. Sustainable development and environmental challenges were also addressed, with flood history and various regulatory agency involvements indicating a careful balancing act between progress and environmental stewardship. Legacy and continuity were touched upon, with the project being part of a larger vision to connect the city along the Ohio River with open space.
Diversity and Inclusion in Development:
Roberts’s involvement in community engagement reflects a strategic approach to ensure neighborhoods are well-informed, connected, and part of the journey. Ensuring that residents feel ownership of the park is a cornerstone of the initiative’s philosophy. When discussing diversity and inclusion in development, the conversation focuses on the outreach to local residents and stakeholders, aiming to ensure that the project reflects the needs and wants of a diverse community.
Sustainable Development and Environmental Challenges:
Biliski and Fields acknowledge environmental and compliance challenges during development. They touch upon the history of flooding along the river and the involvement of regulatory bodies, reinforcing a commitment to sustainable, regulated growth that benefits all. Sustainable development and environmental challenges were also addressed, with flood history and various regulatory agency involvements indicating a careful balancing act between progress and environmental stewardship.
Legacy and Continuity:
Biliski spoke about her transition from a legal career to public service and the stewardship of the waterfront’s expansion, expected to generate substantial economic impact in the region. The podcast highlights the transition of leadership, appreciating the work of predecessors like Senator David Karem while discussing the ongoing vision that guides current leaders like Biliski and her team at WDC. This display of continuity and respect for legacy signals a sustainable approach to community leadership. Legacy and continuity were touched upon, with the project being part of a larger vision to connect the city along the Ohio River with open space.
Future Prospects and Engagement Opportunities:
Looking forward, the podcast promises a 2024 vision for community engagement, hinting at upcoming projects like the complete PlayPort and events to kindle public interest. It encourages residents to stay engaged for a transformative future. Future prospects and engagement opportunities are bright, with ongoing efforts to inform and involve the community. The project’s first phase, PlayPort, was specifically highlighted as an example of engaging the community in STEM-related outdoor activities.
Philanthropy and Financial Aspects:
The project commands significant financial support and is halfway to its $50 million goal. It illustrates community priority and buy-in, a testament to the collective desire for growth and progress. Philanthropy and financial aspects play a significant role in the development, with over $26.7 million raised towards a goal of $50 million, showcasing significant support for the initiative. Collectively, the Waterfront Park’s expansion reflects a concerted effort to create a space that will serve numerous functions – cultural, economic, educational, environmental, and recreational – for current and future generations of Louisville residents
Here’s three fun facts from this podcast:
- The Louisville Central Community Center is engaging in a ‘Complete Makeover Theater Edition’ project which involves various local organizations including the Greater Louisville Building and Construction Trades Council, Youth Build, and UPS, who recently delivered holiday baskets to LCCC for the benefit of families served by our organization.
- The name of Johnetta Roberts’ company, ‘The 40 & 1 Company,’ is symbolic in two ways: it stands for one acre more than the ’40 acres and a mule’ promised post-slavery, representing self-empowerment, and it references the biblical significance of the number 40, symbolizing faith and perseverance.
- Part of the Waterfront Park expansion includes land along the river between 10th and 14th Street that was previously acquired for a massive underground Waterway protection tunnel project by MSD, who partnered in the park’s development.
- The campaign for LCCC’s 75th Year Anniversity continues, and donors are encouraged to contribute via lcccnews.org/donate or by mailing a check to LCCC at 1300 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard (40203),
In summary, this episode of ‘Russell on the Move’ offers a microcosm of Louisville’s spirited endeavor towards inclusive growth and communal excellence. The discussed themes underscore a multifaceted approach to development of the Waterfront Park Phase IV Expansion that embraces history, culture, the environment, and economic opportunity. Significant community initiatives aimed at empowerment and engagement were discussed, focusing on the westward expansion of the renowned Waterfront park. Guests Deborah Biliski, the executive director of Waterfront Park, and community leader Johnetta Roberts shared their experiences and discussed the economic development initiatives they are passionate about. Johnetta emphasized the importance of bringing more capital to the West End to uplift the community, referencing her hands-on work with nonprofit bank Community Ventures and starting her own venture, The 40 & 1 Company. Also highlighted was the widespread community support and engagement for ongoing projects, such as the Complete Makeover Theater Edition and the waterfront expansion, which is seen as a catalyst for transformation and community upliftment. Both Biliski and Roberts underlined the collaborative efforts to engage local businesses and stakeholders. The show ends on a note of encouragement for audience participation in these impactful regional developments.
Click below to listen to the entire podcast: