Save Otter Creek Park – The Friends of Otter Creek Park Blog


WFPL: Otter Creek Park to Close This Week by stateofthecommonwealth
December 29, 2008, 4:31 pm
Filed under: Louisville Metro Council, Media, OCP News

WFPL, Louisville’s National Public Radio station, is running a story this morning that confirms the the City of Louisville is searching for another entity, whether public or private, to run Otter Creek Park after the city closes it this Thursday, January 1st:

Otter Creek Park in Meade County is set to close this week. But efforts aimed at re-opening the park in 2009 are underway.

For decades, Otter Creek Park has been owned and operated by Louisville Metro Government. But the park will close on Friday to help meet a $20 million city budget shortfall.

Metro Parks is looking for another entity to operate the facility, such as the state or the city of Fort Knox. Spokesperson Jason Cissell says even if a new operator is found now, the park will still close this week.

“It would take some time to transition it over to another operating entity, to give them time to staff-up and prepare to operate the facility,” he says. “We don’t have a specific timeframe but we would be hopeful that it would re-open within a matter of months if someone else were able to come in and operate it.”

Cissell says if a public entity doesn’t agree to take over Otter Creek Park, the city may consider private interests. He says a private operator would still be required to keep the facility open to the public, only for recreational use.

This is the first time that Metro Parks has mentioned finding another entity to run OCP, and so far no one from Metro Parks or elsewhere in Louisville Metro government has made an effort to contact our citizens group to inform us of these negotiations. As far as we know, they haven’t contacted any other recreational-interest group, either. WFPL’s on-air story does mention our group, but doesn’t mention our upcoming meeting or how to contact us — so in the next few days we hope to correct that omission.

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Friends of Otter Creek Park Meeting January 5th by stateofthecommonwealth
December 29, 2008, 3:59 pm
Filed under: Events, Louisville Metro Council, Media, Meetings, OCP News

UPDATE 1/5/09: The agenda for tonight’s meeting has been posted below: https://saveottercreekpark.wordpress.com/2009/01/05/agenda-for-tonights-meeting/. Still, there’s time for any additions or changes to be added, so please email me at saveottercreekpark@gmail.com if you have any by 4 PM. If you have any last minute changes at the meeting, please feel free to come up and make your concerns known. See you tonight!

The next meeting of the group provisionally entitled Friends of Otter Creek Park will be Monday, January 5th, 2009 at the Southwest Government Center, 7219 Dixie Hwy #106 in Southwest Louisville at 7 PM. This group is a citizen-led, grassroots effort to explore what possibilities exist for keeping Otter Creek Park open for recreational usage and free from commercial, industrial or residential development. Given that Louisville Metro government plans to close OCP on Thursday, January 1st, we are also committed to finding ways to reopen the park to the public as soon as possible.

As of this writing, this group has many members but no clear organization or official mission, so defining the group will be the main task of Monday’s meeting. The author of this blog, Joel Hunt, was elected Co-Chairperson of the group along with Patsy Bowman (organizer of the previous two rallies), and as such I wrote an initial email to our members, of which the elements which pertain to the next meeting I’ll share here:

… Our next meeting at the Southwest Government Center on Monday, January 5th, 2009 at 7:00 PM. The meeting will be open to the public and the local news media, as well as any other group with an interest in keeping Otter Creek Park open. Louisville Metro representatives and/or representatives from any other relevant government agency (counties, state, federal) will be invited as well. Information about the meeting will be publicized on https://saveottercreekpark.wordpress.com as well as on the Facebook Save Otter Creek Park group.

As we all know, the Park will be closed by the city on January 1st, so the next steps that we as a group take will be important. With that in mind, being organized and presenting a clear, coherent message to the community at large about what Otter Creek Park means to us and our families is very important. So in turn I’d like to propose that we develop an agenda for the next meeting, with the emphasis first on organizing as a group by determining sub-committees to tackle individual goals (examples: Petitions and Volunteering; Public Relations and Media; Non-Profit and Charity Outreach, etc.), electing officers, and discussing whether this group should or should not be incorporated as some sort of legal entity. Additionally, I think we need to see what petition signatures we as a group can collect in the next two weeks, and consolidate that data into phonebanks and email lists. Lastly, we need to craft a mission statement for the group, as well develop a media strategy to inform the public. That said, these are what I think the priorities should be, but I am more than happy to keep the agenda open not only to members of this committee, but the general public as well. While saving Otter Creek Park is our goal, we should exercise as much transparency as possible to achieve it.

So send along your suggestions for the meeting’s agenda to this email, saveottercreekpark@gmail.com, and I’ll put forth a rough version to send to everyone in the next few days (as time allows — obviously the holidays are busy times for everyone, myself included!). If there’s anyone you think should be involved with this effort but isn’t included on this email, please let me know ASAP! Also, if there are concerned community members out there who don’t use email but want to be involved, please put them in contact with myself and the group. We need as many committed people as possible!

With that in mind, we’re sounding the call now. If you are interested in joining our cause, you are welcome to join us at the Southwest Government Center on Monday the 5th. If you would like to take an active role in helping us develop the agenda for the meeting — as well as what direction the group may take — please contact me at saveottercreekpark@gmail.com. I’ll post the meeting’s agenda in the next few days as soon as a draft version is ready.

Additionally, please contact your Louisville Metro Councilmember and invite them to the meeting. You can do so by contacting them here:

Metro Council
601 W. Jefferson St.
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 574-1100
Address postal mail to individual Councilmember.

http://www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroCouncil/ – This site links to individual Councilmembers.



Tonight’s Meeting and Next Steps… by stateofthecommonwealth
December 23, 2008, 4:20 am
Filed under: Events, Louisville Metro Council, Media, Meetings, OCP News, Photography, Rallies

(Kevin Martin addresses the crowd.)

Approximately 150 people came out to the Southwest Government Center on Dixie Highway on a frigid night to discuss what we can do as citizens to try to keep Otter Creek Park from closure. Brian Tucker of The Valley Report has already posted this fantastic write-up of the night’s activities:

The Southwest Government Center on Dixie Highway was reduced to standing-room-only status tonight, as around 150 people jammed the main courtroom to share ideas and plan strategy in order to save Otter Creek Park from permanent closure. Nearly 20% of attendees were from counties outside of Jefferson. The meeting, assembled by concerned citizen Patsy Bowman and moderated by local Realtor Kevin Martin, included Councilman Bob Henderson (D-14) and Mary Ann Vetter, a representative of Metro District 12 Councilman Rick Blackwell’s office. Also in attendance was Renay Davis from Metro District 25 Councilman Doug Hawkins’ office and Joel Hunt, a concerned citizen that maintains a website dedicated to saving Otter Creek Park. No traditional media attended this event.

I didn’t know what to expect because I had heard so little about the meeting, but thankfully the word got out. Those in attendance had the opportunity to throw out ideas on how to generate revenue or expand activities at the park in an effort to keep it open. Here are a few of the suggestions:

  • -Paid memberships
  • -Formation of a “Non-Profit” foundation
  • -A Tri-County Park Commission, consisting of representatives from Meade, Jefferson and Hardin Counties
  • -A First-Class restaurant with an alcoholic beverage licence
  • -Admission fees (per vehicle or per person)

Also mentioned were efforts to involve sportsman, horseman, biking and hiking groups. People seemed against any type of Wildlife Management Area status or residential/commercial development of any kind. Also heard were calls to “open the books”. There are formal petitions circulating. Please sign the petition when you get a chance.

In the end, a formal committee was formed and a chairperson was elected. Congratulations to Joel Hunt, chairperson of the new Committee to Save Otter Creek Park. There will be advance notice of the next meeting. I was very satisfied with the coming together of so many personalities and backgrounds to accomplish this feat. We have only just begun. With this diverse and determined group, I feel confident that there will be a plan developed allowing the park to remain open. They’ve got the guns, but we have the numbers. Get involved now.

So without further ado, I’m pleased to announce that, yes, I will be Chairperson of this new Ad-Hoc Committee to Save Otter Creek Park. I just wrote an email to a large group of people who stayed until the very end of tonight’s meeting to get started on organizing this group, and without butchering it too much, here are the relevant bits for our next steps:

As we also voted on, we hope to have our next meeting at the Southwest Government Center on Monday, January 5th, 2009 at 7:00 PM. Patsy, who will be Co-Chair of the Committee, and I will work together to firm up that date tomorrow, and will send an email confirming the meeting to everyone here. Additionally, the meeting will be open to the public and the local news media, as well as any other group with an interest in keeping Otter Creek Park open. Louisville Metro representatives and/or representatives from any other relevant government agency (counties, state, federal) will be invited as well. Information about the meeting will be publicized on https://saveottercreekpark.wordpress.com as well as on the Facebook Save Otter Creek Park group.

As we all know, the Park will be closed by the city on January 1st, so the next steps that we as a group take will be important. With that in mind, being organized and presenting a clear, coherent message to the community at large about what Otter Creek Park means to us and our families is very important. So in turn I’d like to propose that we develop an agenda for the next meeting, with the emphasis first on organizing as a group by determining sub-committees to tackle individual goals (examples: Petitions and Volunteering; Public Relations and Media; Non-Profit and Charity Outreach, etc.), electing officers, and discussing whether this group should or should not be incorporated as some sort of legal entity. Additionally, I think we need to see what petition signatures we as a group can collect in the next two weeks, and consolidate that data into phone banks and email lists. Lastly, we need to craft a mission statement for the group, as well develop a media strategy to inform the public. That said, these are what I think the priorities should be, but I am more than happy to keep the agenda open not only to members of this committee, but the general public as well. While saving Otter Creek Park is our goal, we should exercise as much transparency as possible to achieve it.

As I just stated above, I believe in keeping our group’s goals and efforts as transparent as possible. With that in mind, I’d like to invite anyone reading this blog who may have not been able to make it tonight, or anyone who wants to help out in any way they can, to try to attend the next meeting. Additionally, please feel free to contact me about the meeting’s agenda and your ideas on what should be discussed.

You can send along your suggestions for the meeting’s agenda to the email, saveottercreekpark@gmail.com, and I’ll put forth a rough version to this site in the next few days (as time allows — obviously the holidays are busy times for everyone, myself included!). In the meantime, I’m going to work hard to get the word out once the next meeting’s details are confirmed. Also, if there are concerned community members out there who don’t use email but want to be involved, please feel free to put them in contact with myself and the group. We need as many committed people as possible!

Thanks again, everybody — especially Patty Bowman and Kevin Martin –for all your time and effort. I believe that we will make a difference for the Park that we all love.



Meeting at the Southwest Government Center Tonight? by stateofthecommonwealth
December 22, 2008, 8:46 pm
Filed under: Events, Louisville Metro Council, Media, Meetings, OCP News, Rallies

Apparently there is some sort of Otter Creek Park-related meeting at the Southwest Government Center on Dixie Highway tonight at 7:00 PM. I’ve known about this for a week or two, but finding information about it is incredibly difficult. First, no single group or person has said who is organizing the meeting, what the agenda will be, or what is hoped to be accomplished by meeting on the Monday before a major holiday.

Second, despite repeated please for information on the Save Otter Creek Park Facebook page, no information is forthcoming. We’re hearing today (as you can see on the Facebook group’s wall) that Council Member Doug Hawkins might have something to do with it, or at least has some information, but of course I can’t call during business hours (it’s probably bad enough that I blog during work). There’s no information about the meeting on Hawkins’ web site.

Third, it’s doubtful that anyone in Louisville’s news media knows anything about this meeting, as well, since I haven’t seen anything in the Courier or on any local TV station’s web site about it.

So if you’ve got any information you’re willing to share, now would be the time to do it. Email me at saveottercreekpark@gmail.com, and I’ll try to get stuff on this site ASAP.

In the meanwhile, it’s probably worth noting that if we’re going to make any headway whatsoever with saving Otter Creek Park — the place that we care so strongly and passionately about — we need to engage not only as many members of the community in Louisville and the surrounding areas, but the local news media (including new media) as well.

The Southwest Government Center is located at:

7219 Dixie Hwy # 106

Of course, there’s no web site.

UPDATE 4:00 PM: Brian Tucker over at the Valley Report has posted some more information:

Interested in what you can do to support Otter Creek Park? Then you will want to be at the Southwest Metro Government Center tonight at 7:00PM. Activist Patsy Bowman is inviting supporters to attend a public meeting to discuss options on how to keep Otter Creek open. Ms. Bowman has invited the Secretary of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet to attend.

This is an excellent opportunity for concerned citizens to gather in a warm place to trade ideas on how to save the park.

And special thanks to Doug Hawkins for sending out an email blast on the subject.

So that’s a little more helpful.



Have You Contacted Your Council Member Yet? by stateofthecommonwealth
December 17, 2008, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Events, Louisville Metro Council, Media, Meetings

One of the many ways you can ensure that Otter Creek Park has a future open to the citizens of Louisville Metro and the surrounding areas is by contacting members of the Louisville Metro Council. In fact, there is a special Metro Council meeting on the proposed budget cuts this afternoon (here’s the agenda) at 4 PM, so it’s not as if the Mayor’s budget cuts are far from settled. If you’re a Louisville citizen concerned about the closing of Otter Creek Park and haven’t yet written or called your council member, we thought we’d post an example of the letter we sent our Councilman, Tom Owen of the 8th District:

Dear Councilman Owen,

Firstly, I want to thank you for your years of service to Louisville and the Highlands neighborhood in which I live. Many of our neighborhood’s residents have benefited by having such a thoughtful and conscientious voice on both the Louisville Board of Alderman pre-merger, and now on the Louisville Metro Council.

However I am writing to you (for the first time, as your constituent) about the closing of Otter Creek Park on January 1, 2009. The closing of this park, as ordered in the budget cuts proposed by Mayor Jerry Abramson, will not only disappoint a large number of residents from Louisville and the surrounding counties, it will deprive the city of one of its most unique features and gifts. Otter Creek Park, deeded to Louisville by the federal government in 1947, is one of the premier natural resources the city possesses, and the inability or unwillingness on the part of Mayor Abramson to find a financially responsible way to keep the park open is, quite honestly, shameful.

Therefore, I would like to ask you to join in the recently-publicized effort by some members of the Louisville Metro Council to consolidate Neighborhood Development Funds in an effort to stave off the proposed closing of Otter Creek Park. While I have not read or heard anything in recent news reports about your involvement or support of their efforts to use NDFs, I strongly urge you to consider it. Additionally, I would like to urge you – as well as the rest of the Metro Council – to fully investigate ways to make Louisville’s budget process more transparent to the public. After all, revenue from the taxes the public pays is a major portion of the city budget.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Feel free to use this as a template for writing your own letter or email. And again, here is the contact information for Louisville Metro Council:

Metro Council
601 W. Jefferson St.
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 574-1100
Address postal mail to individual Councilmember.

http://www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroCouncil/ – This site links to individual Councilmembers.



Could Metro Council Reopen OCP? by stateofthecommonwealth
December 12, 2008, 6:04 pm
Filed under: Louisville Metro Council, Media, OCP News

The Courier-Journal reported yesterday that members of the Louisville Metro Council are looking into ways to restore cuts made by Mayor Jerry Abramson by using their discretionary funds:

The council members aren’t sure yet how much money they will pull together, or which services to restore.

Each of the 26 council members gets $75,000 in so-called Neighborhood Development Funds every year to spend on programs in his or her district. They also get $100,000 in Capital Infrastructure Funds for building projects, and $30,000 in office funds for supplies or staffing.

Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-3rd District, who is chairwoman of the council’s Budget Committee, suggested the idea in a memo to fellow council members this week. She said there is about $2.7million in unspent Neighborhood Development Funds alone, because any balance in an individual council member’s fund carries over from year to year.

Abramson cut $3.4million in services as part of his budget-balancing plan, including closing library branches, community centers and the city’s only indoor swimming pool one day a week (saving $297,000 collectively); closing Otter Creek Park ($180,000); and reducing grants to arts programs ($511,000).

In her memo, Hamilton said the city would save about $30,000 when council members participate in a four-day unpaid furlough which also was part of Abramson’s plan…

Council member Kelly Downard, R-16th, said council Republicans have pledged at least $100,000 to the cause.

Council members will meet next week to talk about ways they could use the pooled money. Some ideas already discussed are opening library branches on Sundays or opening Otter Creek Park.

But before any of that can happen, council members will need an assurance from the mayor that he will restore whatever cuts they decide to target.

Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Abramson, said the mayor is interested in “hearing what money they can bring to the table and the cuts they’d like to restore.”

A few council Democrats argued against the idea. Councilman Bob Henderson, D-14th, said he thinks council members should just hold on to their cash in case the budget shortfall grows. He also said the money might not be used efficiently if it is pooled without a specific plan for how to use it.

“I’m kind of concerned about propping up these programs only to come along and kick the legs out from under them when we do the budget next year,” Henderson said.

This might be an interesting way to keep Otter Creek Park open. Please contact your Metro Council member and let them know you’re in favor of keeping Otter Creek Park open to the public with their discretionary funds:

Metro Council
601 W. Jefferson St.
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 574-1100
Address postal mail to individual Councilmember.

http://www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroCouncil/ – This site links to individual Councilmembers.

(Thanks to Save Otter Creek Park Facebook group member Michael Harper for the tip.)



Send Us Your OCP Photos! by stateofthecommonwealth
December 12, 2008, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Media, Photography, Reader Contributions

(Bald Eagle at Otter Creek Park photographed by Jay Thomas.)

Save Otter Creek Park blog reader Jay Thomas sent us these two excellent photos, taken just two weeks ago, of wildlife at Otter Creek Park. The first, above, is a bald eagle! The second, below, is of some wild turkeys (kinda hard to spot, but a cool picture nonetheless). Thanks Jay!

You can see the rest of Jay and Sarah Thomas’s photostream — including more pictures of Otter Creek Park — here on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/83473041@N00.

And if you have pictures and memories of Otter Creek Park that you’d like to share with us, drop us a line at saveottercreekpark@gmail.com.