With today’s opening of the 583-acre Broad Run Park, The Parklands of Floyds Fork has completed the final major portion of the nearly 4,000-acre park system that ranks among the nation’s largest and most ambitious new metropolitan park systems.
In total, The Parklands represents a $125 million community capital investment that provides vast and varied outdoor recreational opportunities along an approximately 20-mile ribbon of trails, picnic and playground areas, woods, meadows and creek that span from Shelbyville Road to Bardstown Road in eastern and southeastern Louisville.
Developed and managed by the nonprofit 21st Century Parks, The Parklands is a fully donor-supported public park system that began construction just five years ago. Other major park projects of this scale around the country have been a decade or more in planning and development.
“This project has benefited from a Louisville community that highly values and embraces its parks,” said Dan Jones, chairman and CEO of 21st Century Parks. “As our city grows, The Parklands will serve as city-shaping infrastructure that will ensure quality recreational opportunities for years to come.”
Broad Run Park combines city park amenities with dramatic topography
The Parklands’ newest park, Broad Run, joins the already open Beckley Creek Park (653 acres, opened 2012-13), Pope Lick Park (603 acres, opened 2013) and Turkey Run Park (1,257 acres, opened 2015) in the new park system connected by 19 miles of the Louisville Loop walking and cycling path and 20 miles of paddling trail along Floyds Fork creek. Two miles of the Louisville Loop located in The Strand, a collection of land connecting Pope Lick and Turkey Run Parks, remain under construction. The Parklands hopes to have The Strand completed this summer, allowing for full connectivity of all four parks via the Louisville Loop.
Broad Run Park combines the amenities of a traditional city park such as a playground, sprayground and 15-acre formal lawn, with nearly 600 acres of dramatic views, cliffs, waterfalls, towering hardwood trees and fields of wildflowers, along with ample trails for hiking, biking and paddling. The new park stretches from Broad Run Road near Turkey Run Park, to Bardstown Road in Fern Creek, with entrances at both locations.
“Visitors to Broad Run Park will find all the fun things they’d expect in Louisville’s most popular parks, and they’ll also find varying elevations and topography that will make them feel like they’re not in Louisville at all,” said Scott Martin, The Parklands’ Park Director.
Donors helped make The Parklands a reality
21st Century Parks raised more than $125 million to develop The Parklands, including more than $70 million in private donations, combined with almost $50 million from federal, state and local government sources. The nonprofit organization assembled the acreage for The Parklands through more than 80 separate, voluntary land transactions and without government condemnation or eminent domain.
Humana co-founder David A. Jones Sr. serves as 21st Century Parks’ treasurer and led the fundraising efforts.
“Much of my time growing up was spent in Victory Park in Louisville’s West End, so parks have always been important to me, and many of our donors have similar experiences, making it easy to demonstrate the value of what we set out to accomplish with this new park system,” he said.
Among the donors to Broad Run Park, Kosair Charities’ contribution helped create the fully-accessible playground and sprayground at the Cliffside Center. Papa John’s founder John Schnatter’s contribution is recognized with a signature leaping bridge spanning Floyds Fork, now named the John and Annette Schnatter Bridge. Other major donors to Broad Run Park include the James Graham Brown Foundation, LG&E and KU Energy Foundation, and the Sullivan family.
As a donor-supported park system, ongoing operations and maintenance of The Parklands are funded through private donations to a $2 million annual fund and an endowment that funds the approximately $4 million annual operating budget. Funds raised also cover programming that helps bring these new parks to life.
The Parklands built on Louisville’s Olmsted legacy
Louisville’s tradition of quality public parks began in the late 1800s when acclaimed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed for Louisville a system of scenic public parks connected by tree-lined parkways. Like when he designed New York’s Central Park, Olmsted’s Louisville plans were for lands well outside the city limits, yet—in both locations—the properties that developed around the parks are today some of the most livable and sought after in the city.
“The Parklands were designed with Olmsted’s city-shaping goals in mind,” Dan Jones said. “These are some of the fastest growing areas of our community, so we wanted to put the green infrastructure in first, before development fully took hold.”
Continuing in the Olmsted tradition, The Parklands worked with internationally renowned landscape planning and architecture firms to plan a world-class design. Wallace Roberts & Todd, based in Philadelphia led landscape planning and design while Bravura, an architecture firm based in Louisville, designed structures and bridges.
The project is transforming Louisville’s urban edge, bringing much needed parks and green space to rapidly growing areas. Free to visit and explore, The Parklands attracted 101,880 visitors in 2011, its first year with amenities open to the public. It expects to welcome more than 1.8 million guests this year as construction is completed. Nearly 1.4 million visits were recorded in 2015.
About The Parklands of Floyds Fork
The Parklands of Floyds Fork is a nearly 4,000-acre donor-supported public park system within the Floyds Fork watershed in eastern and southeastern Louisville. The $125 million project was funded through more than $70 million in private donations, combined with almost $50 million from federal, state and local government sources. Ongoing operations and maintenance are funded solely through private donations and an endowment fund. Community members may contribute to the annual fund by becoming a Parklands Member. Learn more at www.theparklands.org/member.
One of the largest and most ambitious metropolitan park projects in the nation, The Parklands is a dream realized by 21st Century Parks, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established to create and preserve new unexcelled parks that serve as city-shaping infrastructure. 21st Century Parks is responsible for fundraising, land acquisition, construction, and long-term operations of the new park system.