The Parklands a gem in the rough

| June 8, 2011

MapA few weeks ago during a Leadership Louisville seminar, I attended a breakout session given by Scott Martin, director of 21st Century Parks. Martin, who was recruited by 21st Century Parks in 2010, has 14 years of public parks experience, most recently as operations director of the parks and recreational waterway system of Franklin County, Va.

He was brought on board to direct and oversee The Parklands of Floyds Fork, one of the largest and most ambitious park projects in the nation.

Scott shared with us his journey during the past 18 months of creating and finally bringing to fruition plans for The Parklands, a $113 million project being developed by 21st Century Parks,  that will create a swath of recreational and natural greenspace along the Floyds Fork watershed in eastern and southeastern Louisville. When all is said and done, The Parklands will encompass nearly 4,000 acres offering a wide array of natural facilities.

Phase I of the construction began on May 31 at a groundbreaking ceremony at Beckley Creek Park, one of four major parks planned, which begins at Shelbyville Road, east of Middletown to South English Station Road and Echo Trail. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer led the charge, hammering in wooden stakes marking the future site of one of the park’s focal points, The Egg Lawn.

The Egg Lawn at Beckley Creek Park.

The Egg Lawn at Beckley Creek Park.

Construction of Beckley Creek Park will cost approximately $16 million, funded entirely by a public-private partnership of local donors, federal, state and city governments. Highlights of Phase I, expected to be completed sometime in 2012, will include 5 of the 20 total miles of biking, hiking and cycling paths planned throughout the park system.

Several entertainment and educational facilities will be revealed during Phase I in Beckley Creek Park. The Egg Lawn, a 23-acre “great lawn” for public and private events, will serve as a focal point of the park system. There also will be a canoe launch, 150-person picnic pavilion and a bark park for dogs and their owners, nearby.

The PNC Achievement Center for Education and Interpretation.

The PNC Achievement Center for Education and Interpretation.

Also in Phase I, the PNC Achievement Center for Education and Interpretation has been planned to serve as the hub for educational and interpretive programming for The Parklands. The 3,500-square-foot center will include a welcome center with display and exhibit areas, classrooms and resource areas able to accommodate groups ranging from school field trips to weekend programs.

The Gheens Foundation Lodge, a third multi-purpose edifice planned for this phase, is an indoor-outdoor event facility with views from the bank of Floyds Fork Creek and a variety of meeting and banquet spaces to accommodate up to  350.

The Parklands will be constructed in similar phases over the next several years by 21st Century Parks, a nonprofit organization established to create and preserve new unexcelled parks that serve as city-shaping infrastructure. The organization’s dream is to provide Louisville with a natural gem that will be utilized by families and individuals for generations to come.

The Gheens Foundation Lodge.

The Gheens Foundation Lodge.

“Louisville has long been a first-class city when it comes to parks, and the 21st Century Parks Project will give our city an innovative system of parks unmatched anywhere in the country,” said McConnell during the ceremony. “Upon completion of the project, Kentuckians will be able to enjoy access to quality parks and open spaces throughout Louisville.”

courtesy of 21st Century Parks


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Category: Around Town

About the Author (Author Profile)

Shari Baughman
In addition to her duties as a society columnist and photographer, Shari Baughman handles business and community relations for The Voice-Tribune.

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