After several pandemic-fueled iterations where parts of Cherokee and Iroquois parks were shut down and then opened again to traffic, and a series of arguments, there’s now a new set of rules.
Louisville Parks and Recreation, Olmsted Parks Conservancy and Louisville Metro Council have announced that the Scenic Loop in Cherokee Park will be closed one day a month to vehicular traffic, and Uppill Road in Iroquois Park will be open to vehicular traffic on weekends beginning this month.
The loop in Cherokee Park will be closed to vehicular traffic on the last Sunday of each month from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., beginning March 27. (That is, other than Sunday, April 24, during Derby festivities, when it will be fully open.)
Beginning the last weekend of March, Iroquois Park Scenic Overlook will be open from Fridays through Sundays.
“Our parks are great resources for cyclists, joggers and walkers. But we also recognize the need for accessibility for all citizens,” Margaret Brosko, acting director of Louisville Parks and Recreation, said in a statement. “We’re hoping to see a great turnout on the weekends with these new opportunities.”
After parts of the parks were shut down early on during the COVID crisis, to provide more space and safety for pedestrians and cyclists during the shutdown, it stirred a pretty heated debate. Some argued that it would be a progressive move to keep parts of the parks shut down to traffic, allowing more space for outdoor activities. Others argued that keeping the shutting parks down to traffic greatly limited the accessibility for disabled people.
After the Cherokee Scenic Loop was closed at the beginning of the pandemic to allow for social distancing, a compromise partially reopened the loop in June of 2021 to allow access for people with mobility issues. Later that summer, Metro Council voted to lift that partial closure in the Highlands park, opening it fully back up to traffic in September.
The new plan, officials say, hits the right balance.
“Frederick Law Olmsted designed Cherokee Park in 1891 as a way for people to escape from the city,” Layla George, president and CEO of Olmsted Parks Conservancy, said in a statement. “Cars driving around the Scenic Loop bring more of the city into our parks. By closing the Scenic Loop to vehicle traffic for a few hours on one Sunday a month, we’re giving visitors a more relaxing and worry-free experience in Cherokee Park.”
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