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Revamped Old Louisville Central Park playground to begin construction following delays 

Old Louisville's Central Park in the summertime.
Ryan Van Velzer
Old Louisville's Central Park in the summertime.

Construction is set to begin on a new, wheelchair-accessible playground in Old Louisville’s Central Park in January following months of supply chain-related delays.

The new playground will feature improved sidewalks, designated accessible parking spaces and poured in-place rubber compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. There will also be a natural playspace designed to encourage imaginative play.

The project was originally meant to open this summer, but the pandemic, inflation and supply shortages hampered development, said Layla George, CEO of the Olmsted Conservancy, which works with the city to manage the park.

“I anticipate it opening by Derby, which is of course about a year late, but in time for summer 2023,” George said.

The Olmsted Conservancy and Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation previously agreed to split the costs of the $800,000 project. They selected Central Park because of its location and the age of the current playground.

The plans included replacing the existing splash pad with a new one, but costs ballooned to more than $1.3 million. Three contractors actually pulled their bids because of the volatility in pricing for the project, George said. Concrete, rubber and PVC piping all increased in cost.

George and the city now have to figure out how to fund the additional $500,000 necessary to build the splash pad and finish the project.

“It would be a real loss for the kids in that neighborhood to lose it completely because it’s very, very well used,” she said.

Old Louisville Neighborhood Council Executive Director Shawn Fields Williams said the community is happy with the playground designs and that it will be accessible for all children.

Williams said demolition has already begun, fencing should go up soon and construction on the new playground should begin next month.

“Of course, everyone wishes it could have come together quicker, but at a public meeting on Tuesday evening, most people understood the causes of the delays and are happy it is going forward soon,” Williams said.

When complete, the new playground will be the fourth accessible play space at Olmsted Parks. The others are in Shawnee, Iroquois and Shelby parks.

Correction: Olmsted Parks Conservancy previously misstated the number of accessible playgrounds it manages, and this story has been updated with the correct number.

Ryan Van Velzer is the Kentucky Public Radio Managing Editor. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.

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