City of Parks Vision for Louisville Metro (KY)

Louisville, KY, February 22, 2005 – The Trust for Public Land joined Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson today to announce a $20 million initiative that will create a wealth of new recreational opportunities across the community and make Louisville Metro a “City of Parks.”

shed, continued expansion of Jefferson Memorial Forest, a hiking trail around the Louisville Metro perimeter, and a major upgrade of the city’s existing parks. It will be the largest expansion of the community’s park system since the expansion of Jefferson Memorial Forest in the 1970s.

Already known nationally for the majesty of its public parks, Louisville Metro is embarking on a new parkland project as ambitious and grand as what came before, Abramson said. “A century ago, world-renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted laid out his plans for Louisville’s first park system, a superb network of green spaces linked together by tree-lined parkways that became one of his greatest achievements.”

The Trust for Public Land has been instrumental to the initiative, helping negotiate deals with landowners on behalf of Metro Parks in both the Floyds Fork corridor and the Forest.

“The path-breaking land conservation efforts announced today put Louisville in a league of its own nationally,” said Denise Schlener, director of the Trust for Public Land’s Chesapeake and Central Appalachians Field Office. “As Louisville did a century ago when Frederick Law Olmsted was asked to design a world-class park system for a growing population, today’s leaders are acting now to ensure that future generations will have parks, streams, and forests to enjoy forever.”

Effort includes park upgrades, new parks, loop trail

Besides adding new parkland, Abramson said Louisville Metro is investing in its existing parks as well. Since the January 2003 merger of Louisville and Jefferson County governments, Metro Parks has completed 67 construction and enhancement projects totaling more than $16 million. More than 100 additional projects are planned or underway in parks all over town.

In the Floyds Fork corridor, an area of focus for TPL, nearly 2,000 acres have been acquired or put under option, with more to come. The corridor will include several major “nodes” for future parks, linked by additional green space.

The City of Parks plan includes a hiking and bicycling trail that will eventually form a loop around the entire county—100 miles or more in length—and connect Olmsted parks along existing parkways.

Abramson said many of the concepts contained in the City of Parks initiative were envisioned in Cornerstone 2020, the comprehensive land-use plan adopted in 2000. Louisville and Jefferson County were projected to need over 8,800 acres of new parkland by the year 2020. The subsequent merger of city and county governments helped make the project feasible, he said.

Many details about the City of Parks effort have yet to be determined, such as the specific uses of any new land and the extent and timing of the expansion of Jefferson Memorial Forest. Abramson said the public will have a chance to give its input at future meetings. But while the project may take as many as 15 years to complete, he said, he wanted to announce the effort now, in order to build community support and involvement.

Jones leads partnership to raise funds

Thanks to major contributions from Humana Inc. co-founder and chairman David A. Jones, his family and others, a significant portion of the land needed for the expansion already has been acquired. Jones will lead a fundraising effort to continue buying land. Abramson also announced a $3 million commitment from the James Graham Brown Foundation and a $1 million gift from Sara Shallenberger Brown. The mayor said he will propose $1 million to $2 million in the Louisville Metro budget for each of the next few years. The mayor also commended Dr. Steve Henry, former lieutenant governor, and Future Fund, a land-conservation foundation, for buying hundreds of acres along Floyds Fork in the 1990s. The public will have a chance to pitch in too. A non-profit organization, 21st Century Parks, has been formed and is seeking federal 501(c)(3) status in order to accept tax-deductible donations. In the interim, the Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy will accept donations.