Monday, April 30, 2001

City-funded concerts questioned

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — For years, residents on the south side of Louisville coped with throngs of beer-guzzling Kentucky Derby partiers who brawled with each other, urinated in people's yards and trashed the neighborhood — until police finally shut down the party about five years ago.

        Some of those residents resent that Louisville's aldermen are paying $325,000 to sponsor hip-hop concerts at Freedom Hall in hopes of curtailing cruising on Broadway, a wide street that stretches from downtown to the city's west end.

        “There's a little animosity that city officials are catering to the West End over this issue,” said Paul Bloodsworth, president of the South Louisville Neighborhood Association. “... With the amount of money they're spending, why don't they just go and hire more temporary police officers and then deal with the problem?”

        The concerts were approved for youths who said they cruise because there's nothing else to do.

        Alderman Greg Handy, whose ward includes the southern portion of the city, said he has received complaints about the concerts mainly from people who thought the money could be better spent on human services or bricks and mortar.

        Though there are some parallels between Broadway cruising and the Derby partying on Central Avenue, Louisville police Chief Greg Smith said there are two important differences: The party on Central Avenue wasn't nearly as big as on Broadway, and most residents on the south end agreed that police needed to intervene.

        “In years past, there's been mixed signals (in western Louisville),” Chief Smith said. “A lot of residents of the West End have called and said, 'We don't like this.' (But) a lot of the business owners see it as a panacea for making money.”

        Chief Smith said the department's goal is to ensure public safety, but “every year it exceeds our detail plan, so I don't know what to expect this year.”


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