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February’s Frontline Park: Louisville Waterfront Park

Louisville’s Waterfront Park is an award winning and popular community greenspace situated on 85 acres along the Ohio River. Once a blighted landscape of heavy industry with no public access to the river, the last 20 years have seen the park become a regional jewel that attracts 1.5 million visitors every year, sparking hundreds of millions of dollars of development in the surrounding area, including a minor league ballpark, new housing, businesses, restaurants and galleries. Waterfront Park’s success has served as a model for a number of other communities undertaking waterfront projects.  Many site furnishings were manufactured by DuMor, Inc.

Waterfront Park in autumn

Talk of redevelopment along the blighted sections of river had gone on for years. More than a dozen public meetings showed overwhelming support for public green space, but no progress was made. That began to change in the early 1990s during a meeting of community leaders led by Humana Chairman David Jones. Jones, along with local philanthropists Sally Brown and Mary Bingham, had participated in an earlier phase of the project by funding the development of the Waterfront Master Plan by San Francisco-based Hargreaves Associates. With the Hargreaves plan in hand, Jones started the meeting by pledging to match the largest contribution to the project. At the other end of the table, Mrs. Bingham reached into her purse, pulled out her checkbook, and wrote a personal check for $1,000,000. From that moment, the project was off and running and hasn’t stopped since. In the twenty years since that meeting, Waterfront Park has completed 3 phases and received more than $40,000,000 in private donations, many in amounts of $10, $100 and $1,000 from a highly engaged community.

Photo Credit: Nfocus Images, Wales Hunter

Waterfront Park will be featured on CPA’s homepage throughout the month of February.

The “Frontline Parks” program is made possible with generous support from DuMor, Inc. and PlayCore.

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