Phase 1 of La Grange, Ky., park
The plans for new park ready for City Council approval
LA GRANGE, Ky. (October 2020) – The La Grange Springs Park Committee is ready to embark upon Phase I of the multi-use park project as soon as funding can be secured. The site will be a welcome addition to the city as a recreational area with extra green space that can be used by all ages.
At its last meeting on Sept. 15, the committee decided to take its plan for Phase I to the La Grange City Council. Ann Zimlich, chairperson of La Grange Springs Park Committee, said that the committee “was at a point in the planning that it did not want to move forward with fundraising until we knew we had the full blessing of the city council. For the city council to vote on our plan, it needed to be approved by the city’s park committee and then recommended to council.”
Photo courtesy of Jones Landscape Architecture
This rendition shows what the playground at the future La Grange Springs Park could look like in downtown La Grange, Ky.
The city council will have the opportunity to approve the park plan at its Oct. 5 meeting. With seven acres devoted to this project, the La Grange Springs Park Committee is trying to decide the best use of the land and also ways to complement Main Street and steer business to the area.
Zimlich said Phase I consists “of the area along Second and Main streets. It includes a market pavilion, splash pad, playground area, paved walking paths, a road in and out of the park and two parking lots, one by the market pavilion and one behind the structure at 309 Main St.”
The suggested market pavilion would provide a permanent home for the La Grange Farmers’ Market and Artisans. “The Farmers’ Market will be the primary user of the market pavilion. It will also be available for special events,” she said.
In an effort to spread the word about the project, the committee held a public viewing of the proposed park on Aug. 22. The committee set up a booth during the Farmers’ Market to update the public on the conceptual plans and gather feedback for the displayed park renderings.
“We were set up there for three hours and had about 20 people leave written comments and several that didn’t, but they looked through all the plans,” said Zimlich. “The feedback was overwhelmingly positive.”
“We had a really good turnout and everybody was receptive,” said Sarah Kopke-Jones of Jones Landscape Architecture. She and her husband, Gant Jones of Jones Design Architecture & Planning, were on-hand to answer questions during the public viewing.
Kopke-Jones said that in addition to herself and her husband, the project consultant team consists of Jodi Smiley of Environs Inc., Chris Diehl of Tetra Tech, and Kevin McCalla and Brian Buckner of Ross Tarrant Architects. The latter firm, based in Lexington, Ky., is going to be the lead architectural firm, she said. Everyone involved has “created a cohesive master plan.”
Kopke-Jones said that during the viewing at the Farmers’ Market, she realized a lot of people didn’t know about the project. But “everyone seemed excited about it.”
One aspect people really liked was the “railroad and its history tie-in to the Main Street fabric,” she said. The market pavilion would look similar to the old Louisville and Interurban Trolley Station that once sat at the corner of Second and Main streets. The interurban line operated in and around Louisville, including Oldham County on its route, during the first half of the 20th century.
In 2019, a previous master plan had been completed by another company, Kopke-Jones said. Since that time, additional property had been purchased, including a lot at 309 W. Main St.
People with “all abilities will be able to use the park,” she said. It will have handicap accessible features and include security, as “security was one of the main concerns.” There will be a through-road so that law enforcement will be able to circulate through the park with no dead ends.
Zimlich said she can see “families, residents, visitors, school groups, arts groups, theater groups, orchestras, acting groups and daycares using the park.
“With eventual connectivity to the library and the commerce walking trail, it really helps increase the walkability of La Grange and opens up the possibility of expanded programming for the library as well as other organizations like the Oldham County History Center.”
At $3.2 million, Phase I is the most expensive phase of the project. Additional phases of the park will include an amphitheater, skate park and picnic area.
The park will be funded publically, and the committee will fundraise for private donations and look for grants that would match some of the project costs. Zimlich said the committee is in the process of researching grants and seeking out corporate sponsors. “We also hope to have smaller funding opportunities for families and residents like benches, trees, brick pavers, etc.”
But the first step is to get approval from city council. She wants to be sure the committee has the full support of the city council before targeting possible grant sources. She also hopes the city will consider contributing to funding efforts.
At the moment the project “is in limbo,” said Kopke-Jones, as the committee waits for funding. She said she thinks the community understands the proposed plans can act as a catalyst for downtown tourism, which can benefit everyone.
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