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Report: Louisville Park Amenities Get High Marks But Still Fall Short On Access

Willow Park in Louisville.

A new report gives Louisville high marks for some of its park amenities, but says the city continues to fall short when it comes to park access.

The report from The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit formed to protect land and create parks, reviewed amenities at parks systems of the 100 most populous U.S. cities. According to its data, 33 percent of Louisville residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, while the national average is 65 percent.

Ali Hiple, The Trust for Public Land’s program coordinator, said Louisville could begin addressing the issue of access by adding crosswalks so people can get to parks quicker, or by signing joint-use agreements with schools so residents can use their parks.

“Those are two things that are kind of low-hanging fruit in terms of just making sure that the parks that are there already are accessible to people,” Hiple said. “It’s not always about putting in a big new park, it might be connecting a trail system through a number of different parks. And then those parks and greenways are going to be included as parks, too, because they’re providing the same benefit.”

Louisville Metro Parks Department spokesman Jon Reiter said the city is taking steps to address the issue with initiatives such as the Louisville Loop, "an estimated 100-mile trail system that will eventually encircle the city and link existing and new parks and neighborhoods."

The Trust gave Louisville high marks for some park amenities. The report ranked Louisville first in the number of golf courses and tennis courts. The city was also ranked second in the number of playgrounds, and Jefferson Memorial Forest was ranked the fifth largest park compared to parks in the other 100 cities.

Reiter noted that the Metro Parks Department is also a finalist for a Gold Medal Award from the National Recreation Park Agency. He said Metro Parks will evaluate the Trust For Public Land’s report, but he's unsure whether the department will make changes in response to it.

This latest report supplements The Trust For Public Land’s ParkScore Index, which was released in May. In that report, the Trust ranked Louisville’s park system among the worst in the country.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.