Louisville Parks Foundation Devoting Itself To Equitable Investment in Local Parks, Changes Name

Aug 10, 2021 at 1:44 pm
Pedestrians on the Scenic Loop in Cherokee Park.  |   Photo By Kathryn Harrington
Pedestrians on the Scenic Loop in Cherokee Park. | Photo By Kathryn Harrington

The Louisville Parks Foundation is changing its name and devoting itself to driving equitable investment in the city’s parks, starting with a needs assessment. 

Brooke Perry Pardue, the president and CEO of the Parks Alliance of Louisville, formerly the Foundation, said the group would be contacting the public for input on the city’s parks and pairing that feedback with neighborhood statistics on a variety of factors such as home vacancy rates, water and air quality and health issues. 

"This past year, our country and the world has experienced such heartbreaking grief,” said Pardue at a press conference at Russell Lee Park. “Quality parks and green spaces do not have the power to heal racial and economic inequities, but we do know the economic vitality they bring and the healing power of these spaces as we grieve and overcome the trauma.”

The Louisville Parks Foundation started in 2005 as the fiscal agent to acquire land for the Jefferson Memorial Forest and the Louisville Loop. Since that role ended in 2011, the Foundation has worked on community-driven projects in Louisville’s parks, such as adding the Southend Soccer Fields and an inclusive playground at California Park.

“So, we’ve got a lot to be proud of,” said Mayor Greg Fischer, “and we want to take a step back and say, what can we do better?”

The needs assessment, part of the Parks for All project, will involve community outreach across the city, said Pardue. But, it will take input from the areas of Louisville with the least amount of investment "into even greater consideration.”

“We believe those closest to the areas of concern are the experts of their lived experiences and can guide the solutions,” she said. 

The needs assessment will eventually result in a roadmap for future public park investments.

The Parks Alliance of Louisville launched Parks for All with the help of a $200,000 appropriation from Metro Council. It’s based on other parks projects in other cities, including Minneapolis and Pittsburgh. 

Pittsburgh’s Parks for All project started in 2018. So far, the city has finished its plan and voters passed a parks tax referendum to generate $10 million annually to implement it, according to the project’s website. 

The former CEO of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Jayne Miller, will help the Parks Alliance of Louisville with its Parks for All project.

Minneapolis is still drafting its plan.

This story has been corrected to adequately reflect Jayne Miller's employment.