Louisville Metro Government announced that it is beginning the process of exploring alternative locations for the Louisville Metro Police Impound lot.
The lot, located for at least 50 years at 1478 Frankfort Ave. in Butchertown, serves as the main temporary storage area for cars towed from throughout the city, and as a longer-term storage area for cars being held as evidence in a legal proceeding. It holds about 1,800 vehicles at full capacity, but frequently stores in excess of 2,000 vehicles.
The impound lot’s current location, bordering the Butchertown Greenway Trail and the main stem of the Beargrass Creek, is less than ideal for many reasons, said Theresa Zawacki, Senior Policy Advisor to Louisville Forward.
“Historic site management practices, including parking cars on gravel surfaces, have contributed to environmental concerns about contaminated soil and runoff into the adjacent Beargrass Creek,” Zawacki said. “Part of the site is located within the 100-year floodplain. And it is additionally complicated by a high tension power line that crosses it, and its historic use as a landfill.”
The lot is in the middle of an existing network of greenway trails that provide access to Waterfront Park, the future Waterfront Botanical Gardens, and a future soccer stadium district. And a number of community groups have advocated for the connection and enhancement of these trails to provide transportation and recreation options for cyclists and pedestrians.
“On behalf of the 25 organizations and numerous individuals who have been involved in conversations about preserving Beargrass Creek, we are pleased to work with Mayor Fischer’s office to address the problems of the Police Vehicle Impound Lot and its impact on our environment,” said David Wicks, community advocate for Beargrass Creek. “We are optimistic that the removal of the towed cars from the floodplain and planting trees and other vegetation will not only help make our city more resilient to future floods, but will help address the past 50 years of parking wrecked and towed cars to this location. We stand ready to help the city implement a new solution for the impound lot, and are hopeful that it will lead to the implementation of plans for the preservation and restoration of Beargrass Creek.”
Councilman Bill Hollander, whose district includes the lot, agreed that, “There are better locations for a lot that stores vehicles leaking fluids than on a hillside that adjoins and drains into Beargrass Creek.” And he added that, “Space limitations at the current site are preventing us from towing abandoned cars from Metro streets. I am very pleased to see the beginning stages of a plan to better treat the environment and serve our citizens.”
Metro will begin a two-pronged process of soliciting ideas for alternative locations for the impound lot in January 2018, starting with issuing a request for information seeking properties that fit the city’s search criteria for size, location and other physical and operational requirements. The second prong of this process will include public meetings where city officials can share information about its needs for the impound lot, and gather community feedback on potential locations and innovative ideas that could lead to alternative designs or management practices for the impound lot.
People will be invited to share that feedback online, as well as in person. Louisville Metro Government then would evaluate all ideas provided through spring 2018, with a goal of identifying a new location for the impound lot by mid-2018.
The city also will use this process as an opportunity to explore additional opportunities to protect and conserve sections of Beargrass Creek that it controls and to encourage other landowners along the creek to consider similar measures. And the city is investigating planting trees and native grasses to control runoff and prevent sedimentation into the creek, and will continue to conduct semi-annual testing of water that drains to the creek from the lot.
These steps are in keeping with the 2016 Beargrass Creek Trail Conceptual Shared Use Path & Ecological Restoration Plan, a joint project of Louisville Metro Parks and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which focused on Beargrass Creek from its confluence with the Ohio River to the area of the Grinstead Drive/Lexington Road intersection.
LMPD endorse the plan to move the lot, said assistant chief, Lt. Col. Robert Schroeder.
“Conditions and space limitations at this aging lot facility make providing top-notch service to the public a challenge,” Schroeder said. “We look forward to finding a new location for the lot that will hopefully make it more accessible to the public, better suited to the volume of cars we deal with, and a more pleasant place for our employees to work.”
The impound lot requires at least 15 acres of flat land, most of which will be paved for parking towed vehicles. The impound lot must have 24-hour controlled access and a small building for LMPD staff to use for public service and administrative purposes.
The practice of impounding towed vehicles is governed by Chapter 82 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, which places limits on the imposition of towing, handling and storage charges on impounded vehicles and creates a process for appealing the validity of an impoundment.