LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The planned “Phase IV” expansion of Waterfront Park in Louisville’s West End attracted renewed attention Tuesday after Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced he would offer $ 10 million in the next state budget for the initiative.
This is not an overnight project, and efforts to expand Waterfront Park are not new but rather part of a multi-year, multi-phase investment.
Here is what you need to know.
What is phase IV of the waterfront park?
The fourth phase, which Louisville subway councilor Jecorey Arthur also referred to as “Waterfront West,” will expand Waterfront Park to occupy 22 acres between 10th and 14th streets in the Portland neighborhood.
“This new phase will provide additional open space along the river, increasing our possibilities for new experiences and activities,” says the Waterfront Park website. “The RiverWalk will connect the existing park space to the Phase IV expansion.”
The first element planned will be called PlayWorks at Waterfront Park. The 1.5-acre Outdoor Experiential Learning Zone is a partnership between Waterfront Park and the Kentucky Science Center and will feature three areas for kids to play and explore.
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“The new area will feature creative play structures and various interactive exhibits featuring various artifacts to celebrate and teach the history of the waterfront,” the park’s website says. “PlayWorks will engage families and stimulate learning, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and imagination.”
Other features envisioned for the expanded park include:
- An observation pier that offers beautiful views of the downtown skyline and the riverside and is designed to accommodate a 250 person tent for weddings, concerts and fundraisers;
- An “exerscape” area, which is an exercise area with a rock wall, a rope structure, a monkey bar-shaped room for pull-ups and a place for outdoor yoga;
- A fountain and mash-up sculpture in the easternmost part of the new site that may remind visitors of a spray area that mixes public spaces with art;
- Fort-on-Shore Plaza, named after the historic fort that once occupied the grounds of 12th Street and Rowan Street. The plaza will give guests a chance to reflect on Louisville’s past with interpretive panels and historical references.
How much will it cost? When could it all open?
The total cost of the expansion is expected to be around $ 50 million, making it the largest public equipment investment in west Louisville in decades, according to Beshear.
Local leaders first announced the Waterfront Park expansion plan via Phase IV in 2015, estimating at the time that the initiative would cost around $ 35 million.
If Beshear’s $ 10 million request for the park in the next two-year state budget is approved by the Republican-dominated Kentucky General Assembly next year, then it will join a mix of public funding. and private which has already gone to phase IV.
Louisville Metro Council members approved $ 6 million over the past two fiscal years for the project, and Waterfront Park executives said fundraising matches brought that local total to $ 8 million. According to Waterfront Park officials, an additional $ 2 million in pledged dollars could soon be released.
Under the Phase IV master plan, it is not clear when the entire project might end, with funding requirements likely dictating the timing.
What has already been done for the fourth phase of Waterfront Park?
Mayor Greg Fischer said the city allocated approximately $ 950,000 in the 2016 budget for land acquisition and planning.
LG&E has cleared part of the land where the park would be expanded, but nothing has yet been built.
When did Waterfront Park and the previous three phases open?
The 85-acre park opened in 1999 after the completion of Phase I, and it receives approximately 2.2 million visitors per year.
This first phase, which cost $ 58 million and occupies 55 acres, includes notable features such as the large lawn, festival platform and plaza, gazebo, Joe’s Crab Shack, walking trails and picnic areas. picnics and games.
Phase II was completed in 2004 and cost $ 15 million. Its 17 acres include the Adventure Playground, Brown-Forman Amphitheater, Brown-Forman Lawn, boardwalk, and food court. (Pig Street BBQ is slated to open in April 2022 in the colorful building that previously housed Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill and Doc’s Cantina.)
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Phase III was completed in 2013 at a cost of $ 41 million. The 13 acres of this phase include iconic features such as the Big Four Bridge connecting Louisville to Jeffersonville, Indiana, the Big Four Lawn, the Swing Garden, the Lincoln Memorial and other trails for walkers, cyclists and the runners.
Why is enlargement important?
In addition to providing more recreational opportunities and scenic views to residents, the expansion of Waterfront Park in West Louisville is also a matter of fairness, officials said.
Elected officials and officers of Waterfront Development Corp. said the park’s westward expansion could not only improve connectivity between west Louisville and downtown, but also bridge the ‘Ninth Street Divide’ that separates the predominantly black and low-income West End from the whitest, richer parts of town to the east.
Louisville Subway Board Chairman David James said that for most of the tens of thousands of West End residents, the expanded park will provide “opportunities that they currently do not have.”
And Arthur, the Metro Council member whose 4th District includes Waterfront Park and its Greater Area, said children and families in the West End will be able to walk to the new area instead of the Eastern Zone. close to the Big Four Bridge.
“This park is on a very long list” of needs for underserved communities, Arthur said, citing a lower average life expectancy for West End residents and studies that found parks in non-white areas and poorer American cities tend to be smaller than those in whiter, more affluent neighborhoods.
“We are here to say that we no longer accept failure,” Arthur also said. “We no longer accept divestment.”
Contact Billy Kobin at [email protected]