Place to Play

Lack of money has slowed
progress on parks expansion

Master Plan shows need
for more parks in Oldham County

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

June 2010 Kentucky Edition Cover

June 2010
Kentucky Edition Cover

BUCKNER, Ky. (June 2010) – Ask anyone who is conscience about their health or has young children involved in sports, and he will probably tell you he would prefer more recreational opportunities in Oldham County. To provide this, the Oldham County Parks and Recreation Master Plan outlines a long-term project that is designed to fulfill every need.
The Master Plan suggests adding 13 new parks and acquiring 600 acres, which would roughly double the current park space. Numerous amenities could be added to enhance leisure activities, encourage healthy lifestyles, improve the quality of life, and develop currently underserved areas of the county, the report states.
“The master plan is an overall vision for the future of our parks,” said Tim Curtis, director for Oldham County Parks & Recreation. Curtis has held this position for the last five years and was assistant director three years prior to becoming director.
“It identifies a number of capital improvement projects,” said Curtis. This includes upgrading older facilities in existing parks, such as adding a sprayground and slide at the John W. Black Aquatic Center; adding a gym to the John W. Black Community Center; and adding a large picnic shelter to Wendell Moore Park.
The Master Plan calls for developing a system of greenways, and hike and bike ways that would link parks, schools, playgrounds, neighborhoods and green spaces across the county. Such trails would allow more opportunities for walking, biking and running.
The Oldham County Parks and Recreation Department actually completed a Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Master Plan in 1995. Due to great changes within the county since then, the Master Plan was updated by Brandstetter Carroll Inc. in April 2007 with public workshops, presentations and a Community Attitude and Interest Survey administered to households within the county.

Tim Curtis

‘We’ve got a great start here in Oldham County, but we are in need of a lot of new park land and in need of expansion.’
– Oldham Co. Parks Director Tim Curtis

Since the original Master Plan was proposed, the county has accomplished many of its goals, said Oldham County Judge-Executive Duane Murner. It has basically operated on a 15-year-old plan, one that Murner labeled “an ambitious plan.”
Most importantly, there would be a “significant increase in the amount of acreage devoted to public access for parks,” Murner said. “The county’s percentage is much lower than it should be.”
Based on population, “We’re coming up short on our amount of park land,” said Curtis. Presently, there is no money in the budget to purchase land. Instead, the parks system will need to rely on private land donations, grants and fundraising through the Parks Foundation.
Murner is confident that, eventually, if the county builds up its reserves sufficiently, more parks will be built to accommodate the county’s ever-growing population. While inadequate reserves in the past have kept the park system from expanding, anything is possible in the future.
Curtis said he couldn’t put a price tag on the multiple projects outlined in the Master Plan. As Parks Director, his goal has always been to “make use of what we’ve got before adding additional acreage.”
Murner concedes that while the northeast portion of the county is well served, “I’d like to see more in the Northwest (Prospect and Goshen) area. The southeastern portion has almost nothing. The county needs a bigger (park) presence in these areas.”
The county has an adequate parks system currently in terms of quality, not quantity, said Murner. “But, in 16 miles of riverfront, we have only a two-acre access in Westport.”
The addition of the 227-acre Morgan Conservation Park has been a boon to the county in recent years. There are approximately 689 acres of public park land in the county. Approximately 181 acres is open for public use at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve and the North Oldham Lions Club park.

Wendell Moore Park Playground

Photo by Don Ward

Oldham County Parks officials have
begun tearing down existing
playground items at Wendell
Moore Park in Buckner to install
$60,000 in new equipment. But that
is the only action ongoing toward
fulfilling the Master Plan, says Parks
Director Tim Curtis.

Amenities that aren’t currently in place that residents would like to see established include equine facilities and equestrian trails that would benefit the equine industry in the county and possibly attract tourists; an outdoor amphitheater; indoor game courts for athletic programs; indoor multi-purpose rooms for gymnastics, dance and martial arts; additional ball fields; a new outdoor family aquatic center in the western portion of Oldham County; and an indoor pool facility.
“Right now, we’re making the most of what we’ve got,” said Curtis. “We’ve got a great start here in Oldham County, but we are in need of a lot of new park land and in need of expansion.”

Oldham County Park Locations

Oldham County currently has six
county-owned parks. They are located
on the map below: 1. Wendell
Moore Park; 2. 54-Acre Park;
3. Morgan Conservation Park;
4. Westport Park; 5. Briar Hill Park;
6. Peggy Baker Park. The Master
Plan calls for doubling the current
park acreage to accommodate the
county’s growing population.
Source: Oldham County Parks
& Recreation Master Plan

Steps have been taken in Pewee Valley to transform a one-acre lot behind the Little Colonel Playhouse into usable park land. A combination of things is planned for the area, said Pewee Valley City Council member Amy Johnson.
“There are no other parks in Pewee Valley,” said Johnson. She foresees the area as a serene place for people to walk their pets, hold outdoor activities and sit and rest. One group has even offered to build a gazebo on the property, she said.
The lot was purchased before she took her seat on the city council a year and a half ago. It previously held a house when the city bought it, but the house was not salvageable, Johnson said.
The land will be used to show citizens how to implement green features in their own homes and landscapes, she said. Storm water quality techniques will be demonstrated on the lot, and a rain garden implemented.
The city of Crestwood has long-term goals that fall under the Parks & Recreation’s Master Plan as well. The city now owns property at 7036 W. Hwy. 22 that will one day become Maples Memorial Park.

Westport Park

Photo by Don Ward

Westport Park on the Ohio River
is in need of upgrades, according
to Parks Director Tim Curtis.

A little more than 20 acres was purchased for $2 million from Vincent Fanelli, whose family owned the property for more than 100 years. “We worked out an agreement with Mr. Fanelli that we would purchase it and he has a life-estate on it,” said Crestwood Mayor Dennis Deibel. This means Fanelli can reside on the property as long as he chooses.
This is a long term project for Crestwood. Nothing will be done as long as Fanelli is alive, and “I hope he is with us for a very long time to come,” said Deibel. Fanelli still maintains the property.
Fanelli’s idea was to preserve the land. “If he had not done so, it is obvious that it would be developed one day,” said Deibel.
A preliminary design has been drawn up for the future park, but not an in-depth architectural study. Plans call for city offices and community meeting rooms to be created out of the existing home, open spaces, walking trails around the perimeter of the property and spray fountains for children to use. There is even the potential for an amphitheater, said Deibel, due to the lay of the land.
Murner considers the Oldham County Parks & Recreation Master Plan “a good plan, but it will be a long time in the making.”

• A copy of the Oldham County Parks & Recreation Master Plan is available at www.OldhamCounty.net. For more information contact Tim Curtis at (502) 225-0655.

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