COMMUNITY CHALLENGE - THE PARKLANDS OF FLOYDS FORK MAKES PROGRESS - THE COURIER JOURNAL

In August 2010, I introduced The Parklands of Floyds Fork, Louisville’s award-winning project to add four new public parks, almost 4,000 acres, into eastern and southern Louisville Metro while land is still available. Since that time, our organization, 21st Century Parks, and our partners Future Fund and Louisville Metro, have achieved several major milestones.

Over the last year, our fundraising passed the 90 percent mark, bringing us to within $10,000,000 of our $113,000,000 capital goal. We finalized acquisition of a continuous corridor of public land between Shelbyville and Bardstown roads, all of which will be protected in perpetuity for public access and use. Along with finalizing design, these critical components mean that we are ready to begin construction on the first major park — Beckley Creek Park between Shelbyville and South English Station Roads — by early summer. Additionally, we will open The Creekside Playground and Sprayground, on Beckley Station Road, this May. In 2012, we anticipate the opening of The Egg Lawn — our 23-acre great lawn — which can host everything from events to sports fields to open areas for picnicking, walking and pickup games.

In addition to these new amenities, we began the execution of a long-term plan for management of the natural areas of the park that incorporates scientific planning into the regrowth of forests and meadows in the service of high quality, interconnected habitat, both on land, and in the waters of Floyds Fork. The removal of invasive species, restoration of native American Chestnut groves, and the establishment of a continuous forest corridor along the creek, together will establish spaces for quiet enjoyment of nature.

Supplementing this work, retired Courier-Journal columnist Bob Hill is conducting a history of the families and historic areas along Floyds Fork, providing a record of those who lent their names to the landscape — the Seatons, the Jeans, the Stouts — and of life along the Kentucky frontier. All of this material will go into the archives of The Filson Historical Society as a record of Louisville history and the people who made it.

As this project unfolds over the next several years, it will bring a number of very specific benefits to our city. As a community project, focused on the development of public amenities, it creates new spaces available for use by all members of our community. When Frederick Law Olmsted developed the idea of the American public park in the nineteenth century, he saw parks as critical infrastructure for a diverse and rapidly changing democracy. That importance will not diminish as we move into the 21st century. We will add a variety of new recreational amenities unique to a city of our size: a canoe trail, mountain biking, hiking and equestrian trails, and 19 miles of the Louisville Loop, a paved multi-use recreational path, all within 20 minutes of downtown.

Our environmental planning constitutes a major work of urban conservation, uniting upland and stream habitats in an effort to maintain habitat and water quality in a rapidly developing urban watershed. As a contribution to quality of life, this project will help to make Louisville the most livable and workable midsize city in the country: THE City of Parks.

When we begin our educational programming this year, we will provide the first link in our efforts to bring children and families into touch with nature, and to make a significant contribution to scientific literacy among our population. Finally, having a range of recreational venues, geared to a variety of interests and ability levels, hopefully will improve Louisville’s challenging health statistics by creating a more active population.

On behalf of our board and partners, I want to thank our supporters and to issue in advance an invitation for all Louisvillians to come and enjoy these parks as they open over the coming months and years.

DANIEL H. JONES, Ph.D.
Chairman and CEO,
21st Century Parks, Inc.
Louisville 40202

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