Thursday October 5, 2006
City of Parks initiative moves into public input phase this winter
Wallace Roberts & Todd – a national planning and design firm with strong experience in park planning – has been hired to develop a comprehensive master plan for parks and open spaces in the Floyds Fork corridor, Mayor Jerry Abramson and 21st Century Parks President Dan Jones announced today. The planning process will determine the best mix of uses for more than 3,000 acres of open space along a 27 mile corridor, tied together by a paved multi-use path.
Citizens and park user groups will have their first opportunity to interact with the consultants this winter, during the first of five public input sessions that will take place over the next 18 months. Wallace Roberts & Todd is working under an $829,000 contract with 21st Century Parks, a non-profit organization founded by David A. Jones Sr. and Dan Jones to acquire and develop a system of interconnected parks in the Floyds Fork watershed. That organization’s board includes representatives from Future Fund – created in the early 1990s to preserve land along Floyds Fork – and Louisville Metro Government.
“The Jones family and the 21st Century Parks board weighed the selection of a consultant very seriously. Wallace Roberts & Todd will partner with us to create a new parks legacy for Louisville and to take our City of Parks vision and convert it to reality,” Abramson said. “A substantial amount of the land we need has been purchased, or is under option, and we’re ready to begin the really exciting part of this project. It’s time for our citizens to begin dreaming about the type of recreational amenities they’d like to see in the Floyds Fork corridor, from walking paths and playgrounds to ballfields and nature preserves.”
Abramson announced the City of Parks plan in February 2005. It called for the addition of thousands of acres of park land along 27 miles of the Floyds Fork corridor, a 100-mile paved Metro Loop Trail encircling the city, continued expansion of Jefferson Memorial Forest, and more than 140 improvement projects in existing parks. Since that announcement, supporters have raised $59 million for the initiative, acquired significant new park land, and completed millions of dollars in park improvements. One significant project is already underway along Floyds Fork – the construction of two canoe launches announced by Abramson in August.
Dan Jones noted that Louisville is taking on a project that’s unparalleled nationally: “When we began interviewing consultants, we discovered that there wasn’t a presumed frontrunner. There’s really no city or firm that’s taken on a project of this magnitude, where the goal is to design something akin to a national park in an urban area. Our selection team became excited by Wallace Roberts & Todd’s thoughtful approach, and their impressive background in designing parks that balance multiple needs and interests.”
The firm will spend the next couple months getting up to speed on the project, by learning about the land that has been set aside, working with local leaders to identify key stakeholders, and reviewing the many recreational needs and opportunities in the Floyds Fork corridor. Those needs are defined by Cornerstone 2020’s Parks & Open Space Master Plan, for which Wallace Roberts & Todd served as consultants.
Next steps include ongoing public input and review
The public input phase of this master planning effort begins this winter with an initial public meeting for citizens and park user groups. The project team will take input gathered at each public meeting to develop and refine a master plan for parks along the Floyds Fork corridor, and bring proposals back for review at subsequent meetings.
Citizens, neighbors and interest groups will have the opportunity to participate in each step of the planning process, and to follow its progress:
- Public Meetings – at least five community meetings will take place throughout the master planning process, where citizens can meet with planners and stakeholders to review concepts, discuss ideas, and offer feedback.
- Park User Group Meetings – the project team will meet individually with a variety of user groups that will potentially benefit from this increase in available park land, such as hikers, sports clubs, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and bird watchers.
- Web – a project web site will soon be unveiled, where citizens can review concepts and offer feedback at their convenience.
- Electronic mailing list – citizens can sign up to receive updates from the project team at http://www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroParks/cityofparks/
cityofparksnews.htm or by sending their name and e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Citizens will be asked to focus their comments on what they’d like to see inside the boundaries of the parks and green spaces that will be created, rather than addressing other community issues. This will ensure that the consultants can focus on collecting ideas about park use, rather than discussing areas outside their scope of work. Citizens will have other avenues to address issues outside of those eventual park boundaries. The project team will work hand-in-hand with other public agencies to ensure that the master plan is reflective of community planning issues outside of parks, and that those community planning efforts are responsive to the park corridor master plan.
Planning firm has diverse background
Founded in 1963, Wallace Roberts & Todd is an interdisciplinary planning and design practice renowned for its innovative ideas and environmental ethos. They are a national firm with offices in Philadelphia, Coral Gables, Dallas, Lake Placid, San Diego and San Francisco.
Their work in the field of parks and recreation includes developing Nashville’s first-ever master plan for parks and greenways, a master plan for Mission Bay Park in San Diego, and the Canalwalk in Richmond, Va. Locally, they developed plans for three small parks operated by the City of St. Matthews. Their experience goes well beyond park design, with comprehensive plans for communities such as Charleston County, S.C. and Sanibel Island, Fla., commuter rail stations in New Jersey, and a botanical garden in Florida. Internationally, they’ve created plans for communities and attractions on three continents.