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New Rankings Say Louisville’s Parks System Needs Work

Louisville has scored near the bottom on a new ranking of park systems in the nation’s 40 largest cities. The city came in 38th.

The Trust for Public Land scored the park systems on criteria including park size, the city’s investments in the parks and park access, which measures the percentage of residents living with a half-mile of a park. On a scale of zero to five park benches, Louisville received one lonely park bench.

The city did well on measurements of park size, thanks to behemoths like the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Cherokee and Shawnee parks, but the city didn’t do so well on park access.

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Eastern Parkway to Close for Tree Removal

A two-block stretch of Eastern Parkway will be closed for several hours over the next few days.

Louisville Metro Parks crews are removing four pin oak trees that are reportedly diseased and damaged. The department will close Eastern Parkway between Baxter and Quadrant avenues from 9 am to 3 pm Tuesday through Thursday.

Traffic will be detoured one block north, to Edenside Avenue.

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City Seeks Input on McNeely Lake Park Master Plan

Louisville Metro Parks will hold a public meeting tomorrow to collect comments on the future of McNeely Lake Park. The 740-acre park in southeast Louisville is the last of the city’s large parks without a master plan.

The park has trails, a stable and, as the name implies, a lake. The master plan is meant to identify what—if anything—needs to be changed or updated at the park.

“It’s time to sort of assess where we are with [the park], do a really good inventory of what are the existing natural and cultural resources,” said Lisa Hite, Senior Planner at Metro Parks. “There’s interest in circulation, maybe improving circulation because some parts of the park aren’t really connected by road.”

Hite says they’re looking for information on a variety of topics.

“And we’ll be talking with the community about what they like about the park and what they don’t like and kind of what their vision might be for it,” she said.

Hite says the city is also considering routing the Louisville Loop through the park. She says everyone who uses the park is invited to come to the public meeting and give input. The plan should be completed by next summer—then the next step is to find the money to make it happen.

The meeting is tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at Wilt Elementary School.

Environment Local News

Metro Parks Will Hold Forum on Ash Borer Tonight

Metro Government officials are warning that the Emerald Ash Borer could do significant damage in Louisville. The invasive pest, which infects and eventually kills ash trees, has been in Kentucky since 2009, and the Parks Department will hold a forum about the insect tonight.

As their name suggests, the insects are emerald-colored and infect ash trees, eventually killing the plant. Jerry Brown is the Metro Parks Assistant Director.

“We’re studying options for treatment as well as addressing the overall impact on the natural environment,” he said. “It’s going to be something that’ll be challenging for Metro Government, for Metro Parks, as well as the citizens.”

Brown says the parks department plans on protecting some of the city’s ash trees from the ash borer, but there’s no way they’ll be able to treat them all.

“For example, you look at Metro Parks, we’ve got 14,000 acres or so of parkland,” he said. “And there’s no way the public can afford to go out and treat all the trees and protect against this. So there will be a natural process, if you will, of ash trees dying, particularly in woodland areas, natural areas that are mixed forest.”

Metro Parks is partnering with a company called ArborJet that offers one type of tree treatment for Emerald Ash Borers. ArborJet has already treated about 60 trees in the city’s parks for free, as an experiment. Brown says Louisville isn’t recommending residents use ArborJet over any other treatment, but the Massachusetts-based company is co-sponsoring the event. The community forum is 7:00 tonight at the Louisville Memorial Auditorium.

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Parks Damaged By Storms, Heat Slows Cleanup

Crews with Louisville Metro Parks will spend the next two weeks cleaning up damage from last night’s severe storms.

Chicasaw and Shawnee parks as well the parkways and Flaget Center saw the most damage. Crews spent much of today finding and moving fallen trees and hanging limbs that posed dangers to park visitors. Metro Parks spokeswoman Margaret Brosko says the work will continue tomorrow, explaining that work crews “locate the most severe damage first—anything that could potentially cause some problems down the line. They’ll identify those situations, take care of those, and then they’ll go around and get the other tree limbs that have fallen.”

Brosko says the department’s arborists will review the damage and make any necessary adjustments to the plans for planting new trees in the parks.

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“Save The Hogan’s Fountain Pavilion” Group To Ask For City Funds

The Save the Hogan’s Fountain Pavilion group is planning to attend this week’s public hearings on the city budget.

The group is trying to raise $82,000 to repair the Cherokee Park pavilion’s roof. The structure, commonly called the tepee, is not part of the Metro Parks master plan, but city officials say they’ll keep it if it can be repaired without costing the government any money.

The group has raised about a fourth of the money it needs, and co-chair Tammy Madigan they’ll lobby for city funds this week as Mayor Greg Fischer hold forums to ask for citizen input for spending in the next fiscal year.

“We are planning to attend those and talk to the mayor and anyone else who happens to be there about trying to get some work on the pavilion included in the budget for this upcoming. The level of community support certainly justifies some funding by the city,” she says.

City officials have previously said they do not plan to put any money toward repairing the pavilion.

Madigan says the pavilion deserves money from the city, because it has generated rental income for Metro Parks for years.

“We’d like to see some of the ten thousand plus dollars a year that’s generated by the pavilion rentals used to help stop the deterioration and help restore it for the enjoyment of generations of Louisvillians for years to come,” she says.

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Four Metro Parks Pools Open This Weekend

by Stephanie Crosby

Louisville Metro Parks is opening its four outdoor pools this weekend.

Spokesperson Jason Cissell says they traditionally open the pools over Memorial Day weekend, but sometimes they don’t get a lot of initial turnout.

“We’re pretty optimistic about this weekend,” says Cissell, “a lot of times come Memorial Day weekend, the temperatures are still in the 70’s and it’s a slow weekend for us. But with the forecast being pretty good, we’re hopeful it’ll be a great weekend for us.”

Cissell says rates have been raised at the pools to two dollars for children and three dollars for adults. The pools will be open this weekend, then closed next week, then open again on June 5th.

The pools being operated this summer are at Algonquin Park, Nelson Hornbeck Park in Fairdale, Camp Taylor, and Sun Valley.

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Meeting Tomorrow for Petersburg Park Master Plan

by Stephanie Crosby

Metro Parks officials are considering ways to update Petersburg Park in Newburg. Senior Planner Lisa Hite says a lot of people use the 28-acre park, and many have voiced opinions on how the park can be improved.

Hite says planners will present four possible plans for the park at a public meeting tomorrow night.

“We don’t necessarily have any money to implement it at that time,” says Hite, “but we use the master plan as a blueprint and when money does become available for that park, you’ve got a well thought-out plan for where the facilities should go, and all the user groups have participated and put their input in.”

Hite says additional ball fields, walking paths, dog areas and community gardens are part of some of the proposed plans. She says they’ll get comments from the community at the public meeting.

It’s set for Tuesday evening at 6:30 at the Newburg Community Center.

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Public Meeting Tomorrow for Louisville Loop Plans

by Stephanie Crosby

Louisville Metro Parks planners will reveal the route for the northeast portion of the Louisville Loop tomorrow night at a public meeting.

Senior Planner Lisa Hite says the section of the loop of bicycle and walking trails between Prospect and Shelbyville Road was particularly challenging, because there aren’t many existing parks that could be connected.

“In some places the trail will be right next to roadways, some places we’ll be able to pull off and have the luxury of going through the edge of a park or something like that,” says Hite, “but it’s a very built-up, fairly developed part of the community, so it was challenging from that area.”

Hite says the general route will be disclosed to the public tomorrow, but changes will still likely be made after public comment and when they enter the design part of the project. The meeting is tomorrow evening at six at Locust Grove.

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Public Meeting This Week for Hogan's Fountain Changes

The Hogan’s Fountain area of Cherokee Park is in line for some updates, and the final public meeting about the changes will be held this week.

Metro Parks Senior Planner Lisa Hite says it’s a heavily used section of the park, and they’re simply looking to update the area, while maintaining the Olmsted design.

She says they’ve taken comments from previous public meetings into account.

“Increasing the amount of parking by a lot was not going to really be a popular thing,” says Hite, “but they would really like to see better accommodations for pedestrians, wheelchair users, better accessibility in the area, woodland paths need some work and restoration as well.”

Hite says officials don’t have a cost estimate or timeline on the project yet.

The public meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening at seven at the Highlands-Shelby Park library branch.