By Sheldon S. Shafer
After nearly eight years of asking for money with “tenacity and shamelessness,” Humana co-founder David Jones and son Dan Jones say they have surpassed the goal of collecting $120 million to develop a 3,700-acre string of four parks called the Parklands of Floyds Fork in eastern Jefferson County.
About a third of the money — $38 million — has already been spent to buy land or easements for the project, mostly along a north-south stretch between Shelbyville and Bardstown roads.
The remaining $82 million is targeted for design and construction of such park features as a lodge, education center, trails and recreation facilities, with about $36 million already spent or under contract. The first part of the northernmost portion — Beckley Creek Park — opened last year.
All $120 million will have been spent by the end of 2015, when all of the four parks are to be completed, the Joneses said. They say that is enough to fully develop all four parks — Beckley Creek, Pope Lick, Turkey Run and Broad Run, each of which is larger than Cherokee Park.
“These dollars are going fast. We are not sitting on them,” said Dan Jones, who has been a partner with his father in the effort and is president of the fundraising organization, 21st Century Parks.
David Jones, 81, and his family supplied about $15 million of the $120 million. Dan Jones said the family also has supplied the bulk of an additional $25 million endowment that is now providing about $1.25 million annually for park maintenance, including tree planting and trail maintenance.
While the $120 million goal was reached in late February, the fundraising is continuing to build the endowment. The endowment goal is about $60 million — a sum Dan Jones said would produce most of the roughly $4 million a year needed to maintain the Parklands when the four parks are fully open.
The Parklands of Floyds Fork “will always be a donor-supported park,” he said. 21st Century has agreed not to put any maintenance obligation on metro government.
“I’m so proud to say we’ve accomplished this ambitious goal, especially because it says a lot about the generosity and foresight of our community,” David Jones said. Early in the campaign, he said that “fundraising is very personal” and takes “tenacity and shamelessness. … You have to look them in the eye.”
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has described the progress of the development of the Parklands as “amazing,” adding that “it will have so many parts to it that it will take individuals years to uncover all the delights.”
Metro Councilman Jerry Miller, a Republican whose 19th District includes the north end of the Parklands, predicted that people will move into nearby subdivisions so they can take advantage of the amenities. The Parklands, he said, “will increase the whole community’s quality of life. There really may be nothing comparable to this, on this scale, in the entire country.”
To help raise operating funds — money to be used for staff salaries, promotions, programs and other efforts — 21st Century Parks is offering annual memberships of $35 for individuals and $50 for families, said Ellen Doolittle, the Parklands communications coordinator.
For that price, members get a quarterly newsletter, discounts on fee-based park programs, access to a few member-only events, and discounts and specials at some area shops and restaurants. Non-members have unfettered access to all the park facilities.
All of the facilities in Beckley Creek and Pope Lick parks — a total of about 1,200 acres and more than five miles of the Louisville Loop shared-use path — are to be completed by the end of this year.
The other two parks, Turkey Run and Broad Run, will be open by the end of 2015. Turkey Run will have mountain biking, the Brown-Forman Silo Observatory, a picnic pavilion and a 400-foot-long suspension bridge. Broad Run Park will have a playground and an event lawn. A fifth area, The Strand, will connect Pope Lick and Turkey Run, but won’t have any park facilities.
Most of the land is under title to 21st Century Parks, or to two kindred organizations, Louisville Metro Parks and the Future Fund founded by former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry. That’s all the land required for the park system, but if nearby, suitable property becomes available, funds probably would be found to acquire it, Dan Jones said.
“Fundraising is hard work, but one of the great pleasures of this campaign for me and for Dan was having the opportunity to meet so many achieving, generous people. To hear the stories of their lives and businesses was a great testament to Louisville’s continued vibrancy,” David Jones said.
Len Moisan, the Louisville fundraising consultant and founder of The Covenant Group who helped with the campaign, said that surpassing the $120 million goal “speaks volumes about what can be achieved with a compelling vision, and a committed and active team of staff and volunteers who are willing to work.”
In May 2001, Bill Juckett, the chairman of the Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy, asked community leaders to come up with a project that would have a 100-year impact on the community, similar to the Olmsted park system.
The Joneses responded by coming up with the concept for the Floyds Fork recreational corridor under the 21st Century Parks banner.
Dan Jones indicated that only a very few individuals or groups declined requests to give. “We had a very, very high success rate,” he said.
Mason Rummel, James Graham Brown Foundation president, said it is hard to say no to David Jones. She said it’s easy to say yes when someone of his stature brings a project with such wide public appeal as the Parklands.
The Parklands campaign had a handful of fundraising co-chairs and a 50-member steering committee to help raise money.
The co-chairs were business leaders Chuck Denny, president of PNC’s Kentucky and Indiana operations; Sandra Frazier, a local public relations executive and Brown-Forman heir; David Wood, senior vice president of commercial real estate firm Cassidy Turley; Joe Pusateri, president of Elite Homes; James Bloem, Humana chief financial officer; and Phillip McHugh, head of Fifth Third Investment Advisors.
Each co-chair “introduced us to people, expanding our network,” Dan Jones said.
He said one or more of the co-chairs joined himself, his father, or both, for nearly 100 calls on donors. Dan Jones said he or his father, or both went on at least 90 percent of the solicitation visits dating to late 2005.
In some cases, the fund-raisers met up to four times with donors before a decision on a gift was reached.
Frazier said she became involved in the campaign “because this is a project that is really going to shape the community for generations to come. … From a donor standpoint, it is a very special project.”
She said the steering committee grew as the fund-raising gained momentum. She said that David Jones “brought his leadership and vision” to the campaign and that he and his family view the Parklands as “their gift to the community.”
Frazier said David Jones “has been incredibly generous to a lot of people, and this is an opportunity for the community to give back to him — in a way that honors his legacy.”
To read the full article online, and to view a video from the PNC Achievement Center for Education and Interpretation, click here.
• Government, $49.5 million. The donor list is headed by $38 million in federal money secured by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. The state chipped in $10 million, and the city $1.5 million that funded a playground at the Beckley Creek Park.
• Private, $70.8 million. Donations came from more than 550 individuals, corporations and foundations. The family of David Jones Sr. and his wife, Betty, and a Jones family foundation were the largest contributors, giving about $15 million.
• Other large givers included the James Graham Brown Foundation, $9 million; Humana Inc., the Humana Foundation and individual Humana executives, a total of $6.3 million; John and Annette Schnatter, $3 million; Thornton Oil Inc., $2 million; Henry Heuser, $2 million; Sandra Frazier and family, $1.6 million; Brown-Forman Corp., $1 million; PNC Corp., $1 million; and the Gheens Foundation; $1 million.
• Dan Jones said the late Sara “Sally” Shallenberger Brown provided “a substantial gift,” and there were two anonymous gifts “in the range of $1 million.”
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