At the crook of Beckley Station and Wibble roads, just south of Interstate 64, the first phase of the Parklands of Floyds Fork is taking shape.
There, three structures, stone walls and a plaza have been erected for what will become the $1.9 million Creekside playground and splash park, a centerpiece of Beckley Creek Park.
The project, slated to open in May, provides an early glimpse of the overall look and character that will define the 4,000-acre Parklands system.
The architecture and materials are reminiscent of Kentucky’s rural, agricultural heritage, said Jim Walters, owner of Bravura-Architecture, which designed and implemented many of the Parklands specifics.
For example, the outside of buildings and structures features a dark ebony stain, while the inside is a lighter honey color, like the tobacco barns that dot the state’s landscape, Walters said.
But the shape and angles of the structures are decidedly modern for a 21st century park, he said.
Dry-stone fences — fences without mortar — also guide users through the area. Walter said the fences, the likes of which are common in Kentucky farmland, will be another unifying theme throughout the park. Aguiler Construction, a family business based outside of Lexington, built them from limestone and slate trucked in from Scott County.
So far, a shade trellis, trail head with restrooms and picnic pavilion have been constructed. The playground will have equipment for younger and older children and will be accessible for children with disabilities, said Christen McDonough Boone, spokeswoman for 21st Century Parks Inc., the Parklands’ nonprofit sponsor.
There will be a natural area and trails around the creek with educational components specifically for children, she said.
“One of our central themes is to give kids the opportunity to return to nature and get dirty again,” she said.
The playground area will be landscaped with native species, Walters said.
The $113 million Parklands of Floyds Fork will include four large park areas named for fork tributaries, from north to south — Beckley Creek, Pope Lick, Turkey Run and Broad Run parks.
The 616-acre Beckley Creek Park, which will incorporate the 130-acre Miles Park, will include the Egg Lawn, a 23-acre open space similar to the Great Lawn at Waterfront Park; the Gheens Foundation Lodge, which can be rented for private functions; PNC Achievement Center, an interpretive center with classroom and exhibit space; and the Grand Allee, a tree-lined promenade with a picnic pavilion, dog park and trails.
The first phases of work on those amenities will begin this spring and summer. Plans include providing access to the park from Shelbyville Road by extending Blue Heron Drive in Miles Park under I-64. The road will become part of a parkway that will ultimately run from Shelbyville Road to Bardstown Road, connecting all four parks of the Parklands system.
Reporter Niki King can be reached at (502) 582-4248.