Floyd's Fork Greenway Project

Recreational area
being created from watershed

Residents from several counties
will soon be able to
run, bike, canoe and bird watch in park

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 2007) – An expansive parks project is under way in eastern Jefferson County that will eventually allow area residents of neighboring counties to also enjoy natural resources and outdoor activities along miles of greenway and wooded areas. Pathways and waterways will connect Jefferson with Oldham, Henry, Bullitt and Shelby counties, allowing runners, bicyclists, canoeists and bird watchers to escape to the serene outdoors, and only minutes from the city.

May 2007 Kentucky Edition Cover

May 2007
Kentucky Edition Cover

The Floyd’s Fork Greenway Project is a component of a larger project, the City of Parks initiative, which the Metro Louisville Parks Department began in February 2005. In addition to a 27-mile corridor along the Floyd’s Fork watershed area, this project calls for a 100-mile paved Metro Loop pedestrian and bicycling trail that will begin in Louisville and stretch to outlying cities, continued expansion of the Jefferson Memorial Forest, and capital improvements to existing parks.
Metro Parks is cooperating with 21st Century Parks and Future Fund to create a system of interconnecting parks in the Floyd’s Fork watershed area.
“Overall our goal is to have 4,000 acres of park land,” said Kevin Beck, project manager for 21st Century. The entity has amassed close to 3,000 acres but is still acquiring land for the project.
The greenway corridor will stretch from Shelbyville Road to Bardstown Road and conserve many cultural and natural resources. Floyd’s Fork is a 62-mile creek originating in western Henry County, Ky., and flowing southwest into the Salt River in Bullitt County, Ky. The watershed drains a 284-square-mile area.
Floyd’s Fork was named for Col. John Floyd, who mapped the Louisville area in 1774 along with a party of surveyors from Fincastle County, Va. The town of Floydsburg in Oldham County is named for him, and he is supposedly buried there or in the St. Matthews area of Jefferson County.
The watershed area remains similar in geography to when Floyd discovered it. The area is comprised of breathtaking vistas, fossil beds, meadows, forested hillsides, abundant wildlife and indigenous plants.

Floyd's Fork Recreation Area

Photos by Helen McKinney

The watershed of Floyd’s Fork Corridor
is being converted into an outdoor
recreation area that will serve residents
in Jefferson, Oldham, Henry, Shelby and
Bullitt counties once it is fully open with
running and bicycling trails and a
canoe launch. The first phase has
opened near Middletown.

Floyd's Fork Recreation Area

“The vast majority of the space will be open, natural, protected land,” said Beck. This idea will be incorporated into the comprehensive master plan drawn up by the Philadelphia firm Wallace Roberts & Todd.
“The job was too big for a local firm,” said Beck. Wallace Roberts & Todd have extensive experience in park planning. Officials from the firm have called this the largest municipal park project in the country.
Miles Park is among the greenspace areas that the project will incorporate. The park is off of Shelbyville Road, across from Valhalla Golf Course near Eastwood, and is the northern anchor in the project.
Floyd’s Fork Park in nearby Fisherville will become part of the greenway as will the Tyler-Schooling land that lies across the creek from the park. The Schooling family worked with the Trust for Public Land to protect 150 acres along Floyd’s Fork to conserve it and help protect the water quality.
To put it one step closer to its goal, 21st Century Parks recently acquired 458 acres off Brush Run Road known as the “Irongate property.” It was the former site of the Seatonville Springs Country Club. This was the largest single purchase of property since the initiative began, costing 21st Century Parks just more than $5 million.
This is the only parcel for which 21st Century has a title. Metro Parks and Future Fund funded previous land acquisitions. In fact, Future Fund was created in the early 1990s with the purpose of preserving land along Floyd’s Fork.
It will likely be next summer before 21st Century Parks will begin improvements at Miles Park, officials say. Before any steps can be taken, the project has to go through a public planning process in which the public must give its input on the project, said Beck.
The first of many public meetings was held on Feb. 22 at Eastern High School in Middletown. Approximately 400 people attended this introductory meeting, said Jason Cissell, Community Relation Director for Louisville Metro Parks.
“The planning process will determine how the land will be used,” said Cissell.
Individuals from many local naturalist and organizational groups attended the meeting, said Cissell. Athletic groups (including lacrosse and soccer), mountain biking groups, hikers, equestrian clubs, and even the Louisville Dog Run Association were present, said Lisa Hite, Senior Planner for Metro Parks.
“We would like to see a large-scale off-leash area, 10 acres or greater, established,” said Brian Davis of the Louisville Dog Run Association.
Currently, the only off-leash area is located in E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park, located near Westport Road. The association is working with Metro Parks to establish areas in other parks.
“We like the opportunity for having a very large, natural off-leash area,” he said. Such a natural area would be rarely cut, more like a meadow or natural woods for individuals and their dogs to explore.
Davis counts so many recreational opportunities available in the greenway’s future that, he said, “I think the project as a whole is wonderful and can certainly be a wonderful asset for the city of Louisville.”
Beck said it would be a regional attraction as well.
Many area school officials see the project as a great educational opportunity. Eastern High school is already working at Miles Park planting trees and studying the ecology of the area, and school officials there say they expect to expand their efforts.

• Read more about Floyd’s Fork Greenway Project at: www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroParks/cityofparks/floyds_fork.htm

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