I hope you noticed . . . we are a very different kind of park. Few places are filling their community’s need for new parks and green space, and even fewer are doing so in the the way The Parklands is. We are a donor-supported public park. But what does that mean and how does it impact you?
Traditional Park Models
Even though the community need is generally the same, there are several ways that parks can be organized to fill the gap. The most traditional park model is the one owned and operated by a governmental entity. After acquiring the land, the agency then uses taxes or fees levied upon the general public to operate and maintain the park. Sometimes government agencies cannot maintain a park to a desired level, and so citizens band together to help make up for disparities. Park Conservancies are a common example of how this can be done, usually taking the form of a nonprofit organization designated to raise funds for beautification and operating support. An example would be Cherokee Park in Louisville which is owned and operated by Louisville Metro Government. The Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy, a non-profit organization founded in 1989, provides support above the City’s funding to Cherokee Park (and other Olmsted Parks) by restoring, enhancing and preserving Olmsted Parks. This is one way that the need for additional park funding can be filled.
A New Model
Today, only limited funds are available by governments for the construction and operation of new parks. So, in order to fill our community need for additional green infrastructure and public space, 21st Century Parks, a local nonprofit organization, has taken the lead on raising both public and private funding to build new parkland. Many groups, both public and private, have come together to make the addition of new parklands possible here. $70 million has been raised from private donors and combined with $38 million of federal funds, $10 million of state funding, and $1.5 million from Metro Louisville. These monies were all donated to 21st Century Parks, who is responsible for building and maintaining The Parklands of Floyds Fork. The funding is being used to construct nearly 4,000 new acres of public parklands within the project.
But 21st Century Parks will play a larger role than just fundraising and construction through 2015. In addition, we will also maintain and program The Parklands annually. We project annual operating costs to be about $4 million per year in The Parklands, and no tax revenue will be used to fund these operations. So, how will we fund this new park system annually? 21st Century Parks will rely partially on its income (from facility rentals, paid programming, sponsorships, etc.), along with contributions from the public through individual donations and memberships. We have also established a privately funded endowment. With these combined efforts, we will keep The Parklands alive and thriving.
By developing this new donor-supported public park model we can serve as a platform to provide our millions of visitors with a world-class experience, and fill the community’s growing needs for parks and green space. 21st Century Parks accomplishes what the traditional model does by providing public park space. But utilizing our new model, we can react quickly, operate efficiently and deploy practices not available in the traditional model that is usually bogged down by governmental processes.
We are different, and we hope you noticed. We believe you will like being a part of our donor-supported public park. Over the coming months, I will explain to you our plan for annual funding and how you can become a part of sustaining this new community asset. In the meantime, I hope to see you out enjoying The Parklands of Floyds Fork!