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Mayor Proposes Funding for Glacier Run, Floyds Fork Park, New Firehouse

Wednesday October 14, 2009

Money-Saving Energy Efficiency Projects Also Included in Bonding Plan
See Floyds Fork Park children's park vicinity map (200kb PDF) 

Mayor Jerry Abramson today proposed a funding plan that will to help complete the Louisville Zoo’s Glacier Run expansion, open the first major park in the Floyds Fork corridor and construct the city’s third new firehouse.

Abramson’s plan also provides funding for energy-efficiency improvements in city-owned buildings that will ultimately save millions in energy costs.

The mayor’s plan does not add debt service beyond the levels previously approved by the Metro Council because it uses low-cost financing made available under President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package to generate the savings needed to finance the $7.4 million cost of the additional projects.

“This plan will improve public safety, create jobs and spur economic development and tourism,” Abramson said. “These projects are wise investments that will pay dividends for generations to come.”

The bonding authorization for the projects is included in ordinances that will be considered Wednesday by the Louisville Metro Council’s Budget Committee. More than $100 million in projects, spending previously approved by the full council in annual capital budgets, are included in the main ordinance. The ordinance authorizes the administration to issue bonds to finance scores of improvements already underway or scheduled.

Here are the highlights of the new projects in Mayor Abramson’s financing plan:

Louisville Zoo’s Glacier Run Expansion -- $2 million
The mayor’s plan provides $2 million to complete most of construction of Glacier Run. The 4.3-acre exhibit, which is under construction, will draw tens of thousands of visitors to see polar bears, seals and sea lions.

The additional bond funds will complete several phases of construction, including the seal and sea lion habitat. This construction includes a 134,000 gallon recycled salt water pool, which can hold a dozen seals and sea lions. Both underwater and above ground viewing will be available. A spacious amphitheatre will make it comfortable for visitors to view the animal training and enrichment presentations.

The Zoo, at a later date and pending private fundraising, plans to add an additional component to Glacier Run that would include space for sea eagles and otters.

Floyds Fork Corridor Park -- $1.5 million
The mayor’s plan provides the $1.5 million needed to open the first major park in the Floyds Fork corridor, a 27-mile park expansion spearheaded by the 21st Century Parks Foundation and part of the Mayor’s City of Parks initiative.

The city money will build a children’s playgrounds, a spray park, walking paths, a picnic shelter along the south side of I-64 on a former sod farm just east of the I-265 interchange. See children's park vicinity map (200kb PDF) 

The 21st Century Parks Foundation has already raised $80 million in private and federal dollars for the new network of parks along Floyds Fork.

Beechmont Fire Station -- $700,000
The mayor’s plan ensures construction of a new, expanded $4 million firehouse on Ashland Avenue in South Louisville that will provide improved coverage for tens of thousands of area residents. The plan includes $700,000 in bonding to match a $3.3 million federal grant recently awarded to Louisville under a competitive program.

The construction will create 153 jobs in Louisville.

The Beechmont station – to be completed by the end of 2010 – will be the third fire house constructed under the Mayor’s 21st Century Fire Plan. Two other stations – Engine 6 in Portland and Engine 21 in Butchertown – were completed earlier this year.

Like the other new stations, the Beechmont station will utilize energy efficient building technologies, including geothermal heating and cooling and LED lighting.

Energy-Efficient Buildings -- $3.2 million
More efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems will reduce energy costs by more than 20 percent in several publicly owned buildings in the downtown government complex.

The plan relies on $3.2 million in low-interest Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds, part of the President’s federal stimulus plan which can only be used for energy efficiency improvements in government buildings.

Improvements are slated for lighting and HVAC systems that serve City Hall, Metro Hall, Metro Hall Annex, Police Headquarters and Fiscal Court Building.

The additional $7.4 million in projects will be funded by maintaining the debt service levels previously authorized by the Metro Council due to the lower borrowing costs available by using federal stimulus financing bonds known as Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds, said Jane Driskell, director of the city’s Office of Management and Budget.

These bonds will be used on more than $22 million of previously approved projects, more than 20 percent of the projects in the bond authorization ordinance, she said.