Olmsted Parks To Buy 25 Acres Next To Cherokee Thanks To An $8 Million Donation

Louisville plans to add more land to its famous Olmsted Parks collection, the first ever expansion in the system’s 130-year history. 

The parks’ conservancy is buying 25 acres of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary property thanks to an $8 million gift — the largest financial contribution the conservancy has received in 130 years. 

The land is next to Cherokee Park in The Highlands, which is already one of the biggest Olmsted Parks in the city, boasting several miles of trails. As part of the parks system, the new purchase will be called Beargrass Preserve at Cherokee Park. 

Norman and Belita Noltemeyer, residents of the Alta Vista neighborhood for over two decades, are the benefactors who have made the sale possible. The association representing their neighborhood was worried when the Theological Seminary’s land first went on sale in 2019 for $13.4 million. The listing said the 25 acres would be an ideal location for a subdivision.

Now, the property will be used to expand the area’s walking trail and bike path network. 

“To whom much is given, much is required, and we feel blessed to be in a position to make this contribution to the community,” said Norman Noltemeyer in a statement. “Belita and I have raised our family here. This place is special to us and we are so grateful that we can help preserve the natural beauty of this property.”

For its part, the Seminary’s president said he is “very pleased” with the future of the property. 

“We couldn’t anticipate a better outcome for the usage of this space as it allows us to be neighbors with the natural landscape for many years to come,” said Alton B. Polard III in a statement.

Currently, the property does contain some residential housing buildings. The plan is for these to be demolished, with fundraising from the Olmsted Parks Conservancy. Once the demolition is complete, a master planning process will start “to determine a design for the property.” Neighbors and “key stakeholders” will be consulted during this process.

“Louisville has a long-lasting legacy of preserving land and creating unique green spaces that support our city’s quality of life and appeal,” said Layla George, president and CEO of Olmsted Parks Conservancy in a statement. “We are eternally grateful to the Noltemeyer family for their generosity and vision to increase our parks footprint across the community.”

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