Waterfront Development Corp. is considering charging for parking during events. | Courtesy of Waterfront Park

Hundreds of Louisville residents have let the Waterfront Development Corp. know that they are not in favor of paid parking at Waterfront Park.

At 4 p.m. today, the WDC Board of Directors, which oversees management of Waterfront Park, is expected to vote on whether or not to start charging visitors to park in one of Waterfront Park’s parking lots. If the board agrees to start charging a parking fee, then they also will have to decide whether to charge $3, $4 or $5 for three hours of parking.

The current proposal would only require visitors pay for parking Wednesdays through Sundays. On Monday and Tuesdays, parking would be free.

Democrats on the Louisville Metro Council have come out against the proposal, stating that parking should be free to all residents as the 85-acre park is a high-quality public amenity. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer also has stated in the past that he is concerned about charging a parking fee and urged the WDC board to seek out other ways to cover what is expected to be an annual budget shortfall.

Since the news broke of the possible parking fee, citizens have been emailing and calling the WDC to offer their input. David Karem, president of the WDC, told Insider Louisville Wednesday afternoon that the organization has received “several hundred emails” from citizens. He later said the emails alone numbered more than 200.

“Most of them are ‘Please, don’t charge for parking,’ most of them have been very polite,” Karem said, adding that the WDC is responding to each email sender to thank them for their input.

He added that Councilman Bill Hollander, D-9, and Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, D-4, encouraged constituents to call the WDC about the matter.

“I think that’s what generated calls,” Karem said.

The WDC has not passed on specific emails to its 14-member board, Karem said, but he has communicated to board members the “strong response” and let them know that the majority of people reaching out are not in favor of a parking fee at Waterfront Park.

Some WDC board members see the parking proposal as the best way to ensure the park is able to continue operations and receive the level of maintenance it needs, but others are hoping to find another alternative.

Council President David Yates, D-25, sits on the WDC board, and a couple of weeks ago, he said he was not in favor of paid parking. He did credit the board with trying to find creative ways to fill its budget shortfall.

“I think the parks are a great asset,” Yates told Insider. “I would not be for charging for regular attendance. … We want to make sure we keep it up and keep it safe, but I am hoping you aren’t going to have to balance that budget on the backs of the folks who need it most.”

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