Story updated at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Fans of ReSurfaced have eagerly awaited the pop-up plaza’s next installment, which opens Thursday in the Phoenix Hill neighborhood on the edge of NuLu/downtown. But an adjacent church congregation is not excited for ReSurfaced to resurface — at least not at this particular location.
The new “ReSurfaced: Liberty Build” will occupy a 3-acre vacant lot at South Shelby and East Liberty streets. While this activation will only last two weekends, it is a precursor to further events at the site that will span the next 18 months or more.
However, the leaders and congregation at the nearby Jeff Street Baptist Community at 800 E. Liberty Street have unanimously voted to oppose the sale of alcohol at the venue. The church’s opposition is based on their work to provide services to community members with addiction to alcohol and drugs. There also are four other agencies within a two-block radius that share that mission, according to the Rev. Cindy Weber, pastor of Jeff Street.
Rev. Weber tells IL that she and her congregation were not consulted by City Collaborative, the organizers of the event, and that she intends to hold a press conference about the situation at 3 p.m. on Thursday. Weber says she heard about the event along with the general public when it was formally announced.
Her concerns and the concerns of her congregation are about the vulnerable members of their community. In an email, she explains that “the smell and presence of alcohol are a roadblock to recovery for addicts” because they are environmental triggers. Weber also says the vacant lot is “the most frequented pathway between homeless camps and homeless providers.”
In addition to serving as pastor of Jeff Street, Weber is an active member of Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together (CLOUT) and a community organizer.
“Since the project is so close to opening, what we are asking for at this point is that City Collaborative would rethink things and either not serve alcohol when they start up again in the fall or move to another location,” she says.
The site is set to open on Thursday, June 2, at 5 p.m. Events include live music, several fundraisers and a taco-making challenge. In the fall, the site is intended to also include a five-by-five soccer pitch for community use.
Pat Smith, one of the co-founders of City Collaborative, told IL that he regrets that they didn’t meet with Weber sooner. “But we do all of this on a shoestring, and sometimes we can’t cover every base.”
Members of City Collaborative met with some of Weber’s congregation after they voted to oppose alcohol sale. Smith said many had a “big misconception” about the ReSurfaced plans. “We talked to them about our ethos.” He said he might not have changed everyone’s minds, but people seemed to feel better after City Collaborative explained the vision for the site.
Smith pointed out that — at least in June — the timing of ReSurfaced and the work area addiction services perform don’t have much overlap. Most of the service work is done during the morning at Jeff Street and on Sundays. There is no morning programming at ReSurfaced, and it is not open Sundays.
“I totally respect where Cindy is coming from,” said Smith, adding that the door is fully open both to her and to anyone else in the community. “We want this to work for everyone in the neighborhood.”
He further stated he would welcome the chance to create programming with Weber and her congregation.
Part of what makes ReSurfaced in this location so unique is that it “lets people cross paths with people that they normally wouldn’t,” said Smith.
Over the past few weeks, Smith said a number of volunteers from the addiction services community have volunteered to help build the ReSurfaced site, including members of Weber’s congregation.
While the name suggests otherwise, City Collaborative is not related to Metro Government; it is an all-volunteer-run organization.