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Louisville Mayor Details How He'd Like To Improve Parks

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer aims to allocate more than $7 million for improvements to the local park system.

The funding is part of his 2015-2016 fiscal year budget proposal, which the Metro Council will be dissecting in the coming weeks.

As WFPL previously reported, Louisville's park system was near the bottom in an annual ranking of city park systems from a national group. One reasons Louisville ranked poorly is a lack of access to parks, said Abby Martin of the Trust for Public Lands’ Center for Park Excellence, which produces the annual rankings.

Fischer's proposed investment into Louisville's parks could help change that. Among the goals of the $7.4-million proposal is the expansion of the Louisville Loop, a 100-mile multi-use path around the city connecting parks and neighborhoods.

About $1 million of the proposed park funding will be put toward planning and construction of the loop, Fischer said. Those funds will be matched with $3.6 million in federal funds. The funds will help fix the portion of the Louisville Loop near Shawnee Park previously eroded by swelling of the Ohio River.

Here are some more details of Loop improvements the Mayor is proposing:

  •        Riverbank Stabilization at Portland Wharf Park and Shawnee Park – Final design for a riverbank stabilization project with coordination with the US Army Corp of Engineers that will reopen 1.8 miles of currently closed section of the Loop.  The Loop has currently been temporarily been rerouted on road to bypass this section;
  • Campground Road – Design funds for 3.2 miles of Loop adjacent to Campground Road.  This existing section is on road, and will be designed to be a true off road multi-use path separating pedestrians from vehicular traffic;
  •        Northwestern Parkway – Design funds for 1.8 miles of an on-road section of the Loop;
  •        Jefferson Memorial Forest Dodge Gap – Additional design funds for 2.5 miles of new Loop through JMF;
  •        Jefferson Memorial Forest Medora Road – Design funds for 1.3 miles of Loop from Pendelton Road to Medora Road, an entrance to section through JMF;
  •        Watson Lane to Medora Road – Design funds for 3.5 miles of Loop from Watson Lane trail head, currently under construction, to Medora Road;
  •        Leisure Lane to McNeely Lake Park – Design funds for 0.7 miles of Loop from the new PWA construction on Leisure Lane to McNeely Lake Park;
  •        Old Shelbyville Road to North English Station Road – Additional construction funds for 0.5 miles of Loop;
  •        Shelbyville Road from Beckley Woods to the Eastwood Cutoff – Design funds for 2.5 miles of Loop along Shelbyville Road;
  •        Eastern Parkway – Design funds for 2.9 miles connecting Eastern Parkway (University of Louisville area near Crittenden Drive to Cherokee Park) to the Loop.

The Mayor also wants to expand the Beargrass Creek Trail from Cherokee Park near Lexington Road and Grinstead all the way to Eva Bandman Park on River Road.

Other projects Fischer said he would to see funded include a $300,000 pool filter replacement at the Mary T. Meagher aquatic center and "land aquisition" at Jefferson Memorial Forest, Fischer said.

Another $1.6 million of the proposed budget allocation for local parks will go toward general maintenance.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.