More than 100 people showed up last week in West Louisville for a series of community conversations about how to prioritize what’s needed in the area for the next five years.
I was there at the Saturday session and spoke to a few residents to learn what they’d like to see in the nine neighborhoods that comprise the West End, a section of the city plagued with high poverty, low employment, crime and a stigma.
Attendees streamed in and were treated to donuts and coffee at the Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage on Saturday morning. The event was hosted by the nonprofit OneWest, which wants to prioritize what the area needs to thrive.
In an area that struggles with poverty and crime, economic development and safety were high on attendees’ lists. For years, residents, business owners and community leaders have bemoaned the lack of investment in neighborhoods west of Ninth Street.
Nicole Coggins lives on the border of Shawnee and Russell. She said she wants to see more development in the area.
“I would love to see businesses that are small, local and the money stays in the neighborhoods they are catering to,” she said.
Wendy Perdue is a volunteer running coach for teens. She said the area needs a recreation facility for kids to have something to do — and to be safe. She doesn’t have a consistent place to run.
An unfortunate discovery happened on one of her runs with her team.
“One day we were at Iroquois Park and there was a dead body found, which wasn’t good,” Perdue said.
Mozziz Dewalt, otherwise known as “Coach Mo,” said he’s been advocating for a facility that would include recreation as well as vocational training and education. He said a one-stop building like that would help alleviate concerns over safety and violence.
“These have just escalated out of control,” Dewalt said. “The lack of our kids going off to college, the lack of our kids excelling in schools. These things needed attention 15 years ago.”
OneWest said they’ll make public the results of these community conversations in the next few weeks.