Mayor Greg Fischer today joined City Councilwoman Donna Purvis (D-5) and officials from Louisville Parks and Recreation, KentuckianaWorks and Wilderness Louisville, Inc. to unveil a recently completed hiking trail at Shawnee Park (4501 W Broadway).
Located on the site of the old Fontaine Ferry amusement park in Shawnee Park, the half-mile loop trail was funded by Wilderness Louisville, Inc.
AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and SummerWorks participants worked nearly 18 months to complete the trail. The portion of the trail completed by SummerWorks youth was funded by the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence and the Brown-Forman Corporation.
“We have worked over the past few years to transform our historic Shawnee and Chickasaw Parks into even more exciting, diverse green spaces that offer rich environmental experiences for people from all walks of life,” said Mayor Fischer, thanking SummerWorks and the other partners for their work created the first official hiking trail in west Louisville. “Thank you to everyone who worked to bring this new convenience to the community.”
“Our multi-year partnership with Louisville Parks and Recreation has been a highlight of the SummerWorks program,” said Michael Gritton, executive director of KentuckianaWorks, which oversees SummerWorks in partnership with YouthBuild Louisville. “The SummerWorks youth at Shawnee Park have helped improve their community for the better while also learning about the natural world and expanding their professional skills. That’s what the program is about.”
This trail project is a specific infrastructure part of the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative (WLORI), led by the Louisville Parks and Recreation Natural Area Division, based at Jefferson Memorial Forest, and funded by Wilderness Louisville, Inc. to ensure equitable access to nature for children and families in Louisville and is focused on expanding the program and developing associated park facilities to better serve the West Louisville community.
The trail serves as the latest completed park improvement recommended by the 2016 WLORI master plan to improve equitable access to nature throughout Louisville, but more work is ahead, the mayor said, including the Chickasaw Pond Restoration/Forest Play Area and the Shawnee Outdoor Learning Center.
Most recently, the Metro Louisville government provided $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan funds to complete the Chickasaw Pond Restoration/Forest Play Area concept, with an additional $408,000 being provided by Wilderness Louisville, Inc. specifically for provided the Forest Play Area with support from Uliman Shutte, Herman H. Nettleroth Fund and the Cralle Foundation.
Work on the Forest Play Area is slated to begin in early fall, with hopes of beginning the restoration of Chickasaw Pond next spring. The Shawnee Outdoor Learning is partially funded and will be the final project to complete the WLORI master plan. The Shawnee Outdoor Learning Center will work to improve social cohesion through the creation of new community programs that take advantage of the new infrastructure.
“The mission of Wilderness Louisville is to support the improvement of Louisville’s natural spaces for the enjoyment of all Louisville citizens,” said Bennett Knox, outgoing executive director of Wilderness Louisville, Inc. “We are grateful to the many partners and funders who support these day possible. Together, these outdoor amenity improvements promise to support an expansion of Louisville Parks and Recreation’s nature-based program, specifically the Louisville ECHO program, and work toward creating employment and leadership opportunities for West Louisville youth over time. “
Another recently completed project unveiled today at Shawnee Park is a mural designed by STEAM Exchange – a community partner of WLORI – based on photographs taken by the late Charles “Bud” Dorsey Jr. a local legend best known for his photojournalism, documenting life in West Louisville for more than 50 years.
The mural uses photos Dorsey took of activities through the Louisville is Engaging Children Outdoors (ECHO) program, which is a component of WLORI. ECHO programming currently consists of several complementary components: school-based environmental education; ECHO extracurricular education/leisure programme; Nature game with the ECHOmobil; summer job training; and family-oriented community events.
Those interested in using the trail will see entrance signage near the Shawnee Boat Ramp, and the half-mile trail loop offers hikers views of the Ohio River as well as access to the recreational riverbank.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE PARKS AND RECREATION
Louisville Parks and Recreation, a state-approved parks and recreation agency, manages 120 parks and six parkways on more than 13,000 acres and operates recreation programs for residents of all ages and abilities. Since taking office in 2011, Mayor Greg Fischer has been committed to ensuring equity in parks and recreation, including launching the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative, the ECHO (Louisville’s Engaging Children Outdoors) program, and most recently becoming the third city in the country to initiate an equity review of all Metro-owned parks and facilities. bestparkserver.com