Name: Dan Jones
Title: Founder, Chairman, and CEO
What inspired you to found 21st Century Parks?
The realization that our city was growing without installing the kind of high-quality, systemic parks that we developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries when we brought Olmsted to town. In the early 2000s, I hired a planner to look at this idea, and also, where we might build a new park system. Floyds Fork was really the only remaining area of the city that had enough land to do so, and the project just really took off!
What are you most proud of in your work?
The quality of The Parklands, the deep connection it makes with our visitors, the high visitation rates (i.e., that it’s accessible to everyone), and that our wonderful team maintains a consistent standard 365 days a year, at no charge to our visitors.
Which trail would you recommend to visitors and why?
Limestone Gorge is the most unique trail we have, and it sits in the middle of my favorite forest. It’s a lovely, diverse place with some vertical ups and downs to make it fun.
What “hidden gem” would you recommend to visitors and why?
The stone walls in Turkey Run Park along the creek. There’s a touch of history there knowing that the woods around them were once pastures and farmland.
In your opinion, what makes The Parklands worthy of support?
The fact that it’s open 365 days a year, dawn to dusk, to all comers, for free, at a very high quality of operations and maintenance, along with the fact that we are “donor-supported,”—we receive no public dollars, so we need supporters! Our visitors appreciate the love with which the park is maintained, and they reciprocate by helping to keep it clean and safe.
How would you say “Thank You” to someone who donates to The Parklands, or who is thinking about donating?
With great appreciation! As a donor-supported park, we receive NO public funding for our over $4,000,000 annual budget. We can’t maintain The Parklands’ high quality standard without your support. If you use The Parklands, or know someone who does, or just appreciate the value of nearly 4,000 acres of public parks—from playgrounds to wild spaces—please consider helping us through an annual donation to The Parklands Fund at whatever level makes sense to you!
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Dan holds degrees from Yale University (B.A., M.F.) and Indiana University, Bloomington (Ph.D.). He has spent much of his working life in the fields of education and business management. In addition to founding and managing his own business, he taught World History and the History of the American West at the University of Louisville, and most recently, an Honors Seminar entitled “Reading the Natural Landscape.” In 2004, he founded 21st Century Parks, Inc. a nonprofit corporation created to bring fresh vision to the development and preservation of new public parklands. Their current project, The Parklands of Floyds Fork, is one of the largest new metropolitan parks projects in the country: almost 4000 acres of new, donor-supported public park system in the last major undeveloped section of Metro Louisville. Dan is the founder of 21st Century Parks/The Parklands and currently serves as the Board Chair, where he oversees fundraising, planning, design, construction, and operations of the new parks. He is married, with four children, and enjoys hiking, camping and fishing with his family, skiing, running, and reading.
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