RENOVATIONS HELP FLOYD FORK GROW - THE COURIER JOURNAL

When you pull onto Blue Heron Road from Shelbyville Road and make your way up a hill into William F. Miles Park, you’re greeted by red and yellow construction equipment amid deep green fields and tree line — a sure sign that work is under way for the next stages of The Parklands of Floyds Fork.

The 4,000-acre, $113 million park project isn’t scheduled to be completed until 2015, but when it’s done, there will be four large park areas that connect from Shelbyville Road to Bardstown Road, following along Floyds Fork.

The park’s footprint is more than 10 times larger than Cherokee Park.

“The idea is not to create another end-of-the-road park but to create connectivity through each of the areas,” said Scott Martin, parks director for 21st Century Parks, the organization in charge of developing the Parklands. “Part of what makes parks like Cherokee and Seneca so enjoyable is the connection between them. Each space should lead you to the next.”

Metro Parks is a partner in the project with 21st Century Parks.

Last week, the Metro Council’s Parks, Libraries, Zoo and Cultural Assets Committee unanimously approved the renaming of Floyds Fork Park to Floyds Fields at Pope Lick Park. The committee also approved renaming Miles Park to William F. Miles Lakes at Beckley Creek Park and renaming several other public parks within the Parklands system.

The major sections and features of the Parklands are to be named and organized around the tributaries of Floyds Fork: Beckley Creek, Pope Lick, Turkey Run and Broad Run.

Funding for the park project is being provided by local donors and a combination of federal, state and city money. Private donations have exceeded $60 million, and about $38 million in federal transportation money has been provided.

Earlier this summer, 21st Century Parks celebrated the opening of the new Creekside Sprayground and Playground off of South Beckley Station Road in the Parklands.

Ground also was broken on neighboring community and education centers and a 30-acre green space known as the Egg Lawn because of its shape.

The Egg Lawn will feature an amphitheater for music and other events, as well as athletic fields, trails and a dog park, Martin said.

In July, park organizers also opened the new Cane Run Canoe Launch at 6500 Echo Trail Road. The launch provides public paddling access to 3½ miles of the creek, with the route beginning at the Fisherville Canoe Launch at 14305 Old Taylorsville Road.

Once the park is completed, there will be seven canoe launches along 22 miles of paddling routes.

Martin said park officials are exploring a business model that would provide canoe and bike rentals, but it’s uncertain whether that option will be available to park users.

There also will be about 115 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding that stretch through the park, along with seven miles of roadway for cars.

About 19 miles of the city’s planned 100-mile Louisville Loop will run through the Parklands, and concrete for a portion of that pathway is already being poured.

By 2013, several major sections of the Parklands will be completed, including a garden gateway and expanded community gardens at the entrance of the existing Miles Park area, the Egg Lawn and the community and education buildings, Martin said.

Construction on those areas has already started in some cases while bids for other parts are being sought, Martin said.

Park officials are hopeful that these next sections will be as popular as the sprayground and playground have been since their opening, Martin said.

“It’s been pretty fun to see that because you spend all this time planning but you don’t really know how it will go over until the people show up,” Martin said. “It’s been overwhelmingly popular and our hopes are high that the same will be true for other features of the park.”

Reporter Sara Cunningham can be reached at (502) 582-4335.

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