Wednesday September 14, 2005
Private fund-raising for massive parks expansion surpasses $15 million mark
John and Annette Schnatter brought Louisville’s ambitious City of Parks initiative a step closer to reality today by presenting a $2 million check to Mayor Jerry Abramson and Humana co-founder David A. Jones.
Jones, who is leading the fund-raising effort, announced that the Schnatters’ gift has put the campaign - which began in February - into the home stretch.
“Through this gift, John and Annette Schnatter have really stepped forward as community leaders to champion a project that will benefit Louisvillians for generations to come,” said Jones. “With their support, I’m pleased to say that our $20 million campaign has surpassed the $15 million mark.”
John Schnatter, founder and chairman of the board of Louisville-based Papa John’s Pizza, praised the City of Parks effort. “Annette and I see this as a long-term investment in our community’s future,” he said. “We owe it to our kids and grandkids to do for the 21st century what our city’s fathers did for the last century when they hired the Olmsted firm to design Louisville’s original parks.”
Schnatter is an avid cyclist who frequently uses Louisville’s parks. Abramson and Jones announced the City of Parks initiative in February. Through a significant public-private partnership, several organizations - including Louisville Metro Government, 21st Century Parks, Future Fund, Olmsted Parks Conservancy, and Trust for Public Land - are working together to create a new, interconnected system of parks building upon the groundwork laid by Frederick Law Olmsted over a century ago. The City of Parks initiative calls for acquiring new park land along the Floyds Fork corridor and across the community, creating a 100-mile metro loop trail around Louisville’s perimeter, and re-investing in existing parks with more than 100 improvement projects.
“We’ve reached an important milestone toward realizing our vision for a City of Parks,” said Abramson. “We’re over three-fourths of the way to our goal, thanks to several community-minded donors like John and Annette Schnatter, and the outstanding leadership of David Jones. Their support of City of Parks will help ensure the long-term quality of life in our hometown.”
City of Parks funding announced to date includes:
· $38 million in federal dollars, announced by U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell in July.
· $15 million of the $20 million that Jones has pledged to raise from private sources through his 21st Century Parks campaign announced in February.
· $1 million from Louisville Metro Government, which Abramson included in the city’s 2005-06 capital budget.
Additionally, the effort to complete Louisville’s transformation into a City of Parks is bolstered by more than $21 million in capital improvements either completed or underway since merger took place in January 2003.
The fund-raising effort is still underway, and Abramson has said he will recommend that Louisville Metro continue to allocate funds in coming fiscal years to complete the acquisition and development of new park land. Land acquisition progresses
Abramson also announced that six properties covering 461 acres have already been purchased, using funds raised by 21st Century Parks. This is in addition to 1,334 acres already owned by Metro Parks, and 672 acres already owned by Future Fund. Abramson said the purchase of several additional properties should take place in the coming months.
The eventual use of the acquired parcels will be determined during a design phase, which will begin once most of the land has been secured. Some property will become park land, some will be maintained as passive open space, and some will be used for development of the 100-mile metro loop trail.
“Thanks to our incredible fund-raising success, we’re far closer to making the City of Parks effort a reality than I would have ever dreamed when we first announced it just seven months ago,” said Abramson. “This has been a partnership in every sense of the word, involving government, business leaders like David Jones and the Schnatters, committed community leaders like Dr. Steve Henry, and several landowners who patiently waited until funding became available to purchase their property.”
Abramson said that Metro Parks has completed $17 million in capital improvements since 2003’s merger of local government, with ground broken this past summer on 60 additional capital improvement projects totaling nearly $5 million in investment.
Want to donate to City of Parks? Call MetroCall: 311 or 502/574-1500 / [tdd] 574-4091.