The Vision

The Parklands is a systemic, world-class addition to Louisville’s parks system that includes four major parks linked by a park drive, a first-rate urban trail system, and a remarkable water trail, all tracing Floyds Fork, a classic Kentucky stream. This public/private project is unique in the region and unlike anything currently in development across the country—truly a city-shaping model.

The Inspiration

In the early 1890s, Frederick Law Olmsted came to Kentucky to design one of his masterpieces: the Louisville parks system. Working on lands located well beyond the edge of the city, Olmsted created a ring of parks and parkways that remains one of Louisville’s most remarkable assets.. As the city grew around these parks in the early twentieth century, they perfectly encapsulated Olmsted’s vision of “bringing nature into neighborhoods” as a way of shaping a city’s geography, its social interactions, and its economies. Today, these urban parks create some of the most livable neighborhoods in the nation.

The Parklands of Floyds Fork cuts right through the heart of the last major undeveloped section of Metro Louisville. It preserves a vanishing landscape while creating the finest urban edge in the country. 21st Century Parks is employing world-class designers to express a contemporary and futuristic definition of beauty and function in the Floyds Fork corridor. In addition, there are plans for long-term maintenance funding to ensure that those parks will remain safe, clean, accessible public assets that will be well-used and well-loved by present and future generations.

The Details

The master plan for The Parklands includes:

Funding

The construction costs for The Parklands total $120 million. In February 2013, 21st Century Parks completed the $120 million Capital Campaign goal for park development and land acquisition, more than $60 million through the generosity of local individuals, corporations, and foundations. A federal transportation appropriation, secured by Senator Mitch McConnell, provided $38 million for park development, Louisville Metro appropriated $1.5 million for the project’s first playground, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, with the support of Governor Steve Beshear, contributed $10 million for infrastructure.

21st Century Parks currently manages the park development process and through the establishment of an annual fund and endowment will continue to be responsible for park operations and maintenance in the future. The annual fund and endowment are supported through community contributions.

Timing

Phase I construction began in 2011 and The Parklands opened the Marshall Playground and Sprayground in June of that year. In November of 2012 about 200 acres of Beckley Creek Park opened to the public and in February of 2012 the PNC Achievement Center for Education and Interpretation as well as the Gheens Foundation Lodge opened to the public. September 6, 2013 marked the opening of the remainder of Beckley Creek Park as well as Pope Lick Park, bringing open park acerage to over 1,000. In July of 2013 ground was broken on the fourth and final phase of construction, work on The Strand, Turkey Run and Broad Run Parks. The entire system scheduled to be open in 2015.

Environmental Benefits

The Parklands will preserve and enhance nearly 80 percent of the land for natural landscape, which will result in environmental benefits including improved air and water quality and increased wildlife habitat. 21st Century Parks is establishing The Parklands as a powerful educational resource to encourage hands-on learning for our region’s school children, while simultaneously inspiring opportunities for adults and families.

The Parklands will also create a significant urban habitat corridor that will stretch 15 miles within Louisville’s boundaries, linking together what are today scattered fragments of forest. It will protect and enhance the landscape for countless species of plants and animals including:

Land Preservation

With the help of its strategic partners, Louisville Metro and the land trust—Future Fund, 21st Century Parks has acquired 3,800 acres of land, through 70 separate real estate transactions. This acreage will be protected as public parkland in perpetuity, and represents one of the last undeveloped portions of the community. The Master Plan allocates 80 percent of those lands to the following natural habitat:

Quality of Life

The addition of these beautiful parks and trails will enhance the quality of life and help our community and economy grow in ways that are healthful, sustainable, and enjoyable. Reflecting Louisville’s remarkable reputation as a great place to live, this project will become a powerful vehicle for attracting and retaining individuals, families, and employers, contributing to a vibrant future for our community and our children.

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