About 250 people gathered earlier tonight at the Southwest Government Center on Dixie Highway to officially establish a group called Friends of Otter Creek Park, whose goal — although at this point still vague in terms of action — is to persuade Metro government to reopen the recently closed Meade County park, which the city owns and operates.
Closing the park is expected to save the city about $180,000, and is part of a broader plan to cover a $20 million budget shortfall.
Joel Hunt, a Germantown resident who set up this website as a means of organizing what appears to be a rapidly strengthening citizen movement (there are more than 5,000 members of the Facebook group), emceed the meeting, which was intended to incorporate (albeit loosely; the word of the early evening was “non-binding”) the group.
It wound up more an improvisation on Robert’s Rules of Order. Most of those who spoke at the two-and-a-half-hour gathering identified themselves as residents of southwest Louisville or nearby Meade County, and many offered nostalgic, emotional accounts of time at the 2,600-acre park, which accommodates more than half a million visitors a year.
The group adopted a six-member steering committee and formed seven subcommittees, intended to tackle everything from public relations and government interaction to managing special interest groups — such as hiking, boy and girl scouts or horseback-riding associations — that are likely to link up with the Friends in the coming weeks and months.
As of now, the park is expected to remain closed until June, when the fiscal year ends.
In a thoroughly unsurprising diversion, a handful of speakers derided Mayor Jerry Abramson, alleging a decades-long conspiracy against Otter Creek and, more generally, south Louisville. Mostly, Hunt and others were able to keep those gathered on task.
The next Friends of Otter Creek meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 26. Same bat place, same bat time (7 p.m.). Check LEO Weekly for more on the group and any new developments re: Otter Creek Park.