The Greater Louisville Project announced that the grassroots movement 8664 is the winner of its Create Louisville: Your Big Idea project, but the group won’t get a one-on-one sit down with Mayor Greg Fischer as originally promised.
The contest was designed to engage citizens, elicit fresh thinking and new ideas about the city, and garnered more than 2,300 votes since it was launched last fall. Among more than a hundred “big ideas” submitted by community members with 8664 almost receiving more votes than the other top four winners combined.
Founded by J.C. Stites and former mayoral canddiate Tyler Allen, the group advocates removing interstate 64 along the Ohio River rather than expanding Spaghetti Junction and building a new downtown bridge. Since 2006, the group has stood in stark contrast and opposed the $4.1 billion Ohio River Bridges Project by pushing for what it says it a less expensive alternative.
“I’m thrilled,” says Stites. “We’re excited the bridges project is going to be altered, and I’m eager to continue the conversation and talk to Mayor Fischer about it.”
Initially, the winner of the contest was promised a half hour meeting with the mayor to brief him on their idea, however, after reviewing a list of the finalists there’s been a slight change per the Fischer administration’s request.
According to a spokesperson for Greater Louisville Project, which sponsored the Big Ideas initiative along with Louisville Public Media and DRIVE, a young professionals group, the Mayor’s Office suggested that it would be better to meet with the top five winners for a full hour instead.
The briefing is being scheduled for later this month, but altering the rules at the last minute is bound to raise the eyebrows of political observers, who will recall that the bridges project was a sore spot for Fischer during the 2010 mayoral campaign.
“I was not aware of any change,” Stites says. “That’s kind of surprising that they’d do that after the fact. It’s very strange. They just changed the rules.”
The other winners include a “Big Tree Planting Campaign” to dramatically increase the tree canopy throughout Louisville; “Louisville City Text 311” to make Louisville a mobile-ready city with multiple text/app services; establishment of a “Creativity Fund” that will provide stipends each year to ten individuals to support their work pursuing an idea, project, or new product they have devised; development of the “Southern Strut,” a destination shopping and entertainment district along the Third Street corridor near Churchill Downs.