Amy Park’s 18-month-old son, Maddox, spent the first Saturday afternoon of summer drenched from head to toe — and loving it.
They were among the people who packed the playground and “sprayground” at the Parklands of Floyds Fork, the first feature to open at the nearly 4,000-acre, $113-million park project in eastern Jefferson County.
Park said she appreciates that the new park is near her home off the Gene Snyder Freeway’s Old Henry Road exit, compared with the splash park at Waterfront Park downtown. She plans to come once or twice a week.
“To have one out on this end that’s closer is so much more convenient,” she said. “It’s such a pretty setting.”
Nestled in a bend off South Beckley Station Road, the playground is peppered with brightly colored and occasionally cartoon-like equipment while echoing its rural setting. More than 900 feet of dry-laid stone fence — a hallmark of 19th-century Kentucky farms — lace the park’s perimeter.
The playground is unconventional, with the equipment designed so that children have to think about how to use it, said Scott Martin, parks director for 21st Century Parks, the organization in charge of developing the Parklands.
“We put things in here that it takes more than two or three kids to operate, so they may have to talk or integrate or communicate with one another,” he said.
The $1.9-million playground was largely funded by Louisville metro government and will fold into Beckley Creek Park, the northernmost of four community parks stretching between Shelbyville and Bardstown roads. All of the parks are named for tributaries of the Floyds Fork creek.
Ground was broken earlier this month on Beckley Creek, which will include the 30-acre green space known as the Egg Lawn, a canoe launch, more than five miles of paths and trails, event facilities and an education center, among other features. The first phases of that work are expected to be finished next year.
At Saturday’s playground opening, park officials offered short guided nature hikes.
For her part, Rosie Ballard, who was attending with her 10-year-old daughter, Jenna, said she liked the playground’s layout.
“As a parent, I like the way it’s set up because I can sit in one location and see 360 degrees around and see my kids at all times,” she said.
Nearby, sisters Madelyn and Ellie Luber and their friend, Isabella Martin, were balanced on a tire swing.
Madelyn, 6, insisted the water park was better than a pool because “instead of just swimming you can climb and play in the water.”
But when asked to name their favorite attraction, the girls didn’t hesitate. They liked the old-fashioned tire swing.
Said Madelyn: “We love the swing.”
Reporter Marcus Green can be reached at (502) 582-4675.