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Parklands of Floyds Fork to expand for first time since 2016

A still waterway lined with bare trees and rocks
Jacob Munoz
/
LPM
The Floyds Fork tributary runs through Broad Run Park, which is nearly doubling in size as part of a Parklands expansion.

The Parklands of Floyds Fork is adding 664 acres to its property. It’s the public park system’s first acquisition since the last of its four parks opened in 2016.

The Parklands, in east and southeast Jefferson County, along portions of the Floyds Fork waterway, gets an estimated 3.5 to 4 million visitors each year.

The nonprofit running it now plans to increase the size of its two southern parks, thanks to newly-acquired land.

Turkey Run Park will grow by 156 acres, up to around 950 acres. The Parklands acquired two land parcels for almost $3 million.

The group will also add 508 acres to Broad Run Park, almost doubling it to around 1,100 acres. The new property was originally purchased by the nonprofit’s endowment fund for $4.5 million in 2011.

Dan Jones, the Parklands’ founder and board chair, said the Broad Run addition was originally planned as an expansion of the Oakland Hills residential development, operated by the endowment. Money earned on the land would’ve helped cover an estimated $4.5 million in annual operating costs.

But he said the contentious plan changed in the past several years, and that the acreage presents a rare opportunity to add to the park. According to Jones, the property was essentially transferred to be used for public greenspace.

“During COVID, I [came to the conclusion] that we were never again going to find a 500-plus acre piece right next to the Parklands,” Jones said.

Megan Young, the Parklands’ communications and marketing coordinator, said in an email that the Broad Run Park addition happened in the past month. That transaction is not yet reflected in public records.

In total, the Parklands of Floyds Fork will span more than 4,000 acres.

How the added space will be used is not yet decided. Young said planning will begin in 2024, but added there’s no timeline for how long that will last.

Jones said the properties are well-suited to be used for their natural amenities, with less of a focus on development.

“Other than trail access, we might build a picnic pavilion or something. You know, kind of a light touch,” Jones said.

There’s no official vision for expanding the Parklands, Jones said. He referred to the nonprofit’s strategy as “halfway between a formal plan and sort of improvising.”

“There are still other parcels on our list that if they were to come available at a price that we felt was affordable and reasonable, we would certainly go after them,” he said.

Jones said the Parklands is also focused on maintaining and hosting preservation projects on its land. The parks were originally built from more than 80 parcels, with efforts beginning in the mid-2000s.

The move to bring more land into the parks system comes as city planners look to develop new regulations for development around the Floyds Fork waterway, which local environmentalists are concerned about.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.