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ALBERTA JONES PARK

Thanks to the dedication of California Neighborhood residents, the Parks Alliance of Louisville, and many community partners, the vacant land along Maple Street between Dr. W.J. Hodge and 25th will be transformed into a vibrant public park. It will be named for pioneering attorney and civil rights champion Alberta Jones whose first law office was located just blocks from the park site.

 

The first phase of park construction—on five of the site’s roughly 20 acres—will begin in early 2023 and will celebrate the community's unique culture and heritage. Phase One will include all of the community’s most-requested features:

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COMMUNITY-LED CHANGE

 

In 2021, a group of residents from the California Neighborhood formed a Leadership Committee to guide the development of the Maple Street Greenspace Project. The group continues to meet monthly to shape the broad community outreach. In 2021, this included tabling at California Day, Victory Park Day, and two "pop-up" events at the location itself, all of which engaged several hundred people. Students at Phillis Wheatley Elementary School, campers at the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA, and families from St. Benedict Early Childhood Education Center all helped with playground design.

Residents Juan Davis, Jr. and Dreema Jackson joined the Board of Directors of the Parks Alliance in 2020 to provide resident voice and leadership for not only Alberta Jones Park, but all of the initiatives of the Alliance—as we focus on ensuring equitable park investment for all Louisville residents.

Through targeted outreach to the California neighborhood, in-person events, direct mail, and social media polls, hundreds of surveys have been collected to determine the design of the park—from prioritizing recreational amenities to choosing an overarching park theme. The final stage of community engagement wrapped on October 15, 2022, with a "Name Your Park" survey mailed to 2,200 households in the neighborhood with a postage-paid return envelope.

 

Here are all of the survey results...

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Park Features

Top five choices based on community surveys collected from 2016-2021

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What design theme reflects the unique qualities of the California Neighborhood?

Park Theme

Playground Theme and Features

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100 children and families gave input through July 2022 

Name Your Park Survey

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THE BRILLIANT LIFE OF ALBERTA JONES

A trailblazer from West Louisville born in 1930, Alberta Jones graduated from Central High School, attended Louisville Municipal College for Negroes (now Simmons University) where she graduated third in her class, and eventually graduated fourth in her class from Howard University School of Law. She was one of the first Black women to pass the Kentucky Bar exam and opened a practice in Louisville at 2019 West Broadway just blocks from the site of the new park.

Jones negotiated the first professional boxing contract for young boxer Cassius Clay who eventually changed his name to Muhammad Ali and became a three-time heavyweight boxing champion and global humanitarian. In 1965, she became the first woman appointed a city attorney in Jefferson County, working as a prosecutor in the Louisville Domestic Relations Court to convict perpetrators of domestic violence.

As a civil rights activist, she participated in the March on Washington, was a member of the NAACP, and worked with the Louisville Urban League. Jones formed the Independent Voters Association of Louisville, renting voting machines to teach Black Louisvillians how to vote, resulting in 6,000 new voters who replaced the mayor and other city officials.

Her life was tragically cut short in August 1965: she was murdered, and her case remains unsolved. The U.S. Department of Justice reopened the case in 2017 following the passage of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act.

For Flora Shanklin, naming the new park in honor of her big sister Alberta Jones brings tremendous joy. “Words cannot describe how happy and grateful I am. This is the greatest recognition she has ever received and it will be permanent and everlasting. She was such an extraordinary person and way ahead of her time.”

 

The park recognition is especially fitting because Jones was so focused on helping children. After her death, Shanklin found the following written in Jones’ diary: “When I die and cross the way, no greater epitaph will there be, for some small child to say, ‘Gee, she did a lot for me.’”

PLAYGROUND DESIGN

The Alberta Jones Park playground is designed by Earthscape, one of the premier playground companies in North America. It will encourage natural and non-prescriptive play that engages children of all ages and abilities. As requested by the community, the playground celebrates music-making with giant musical notes and a scale built into a soaring climbing tower, sound-making devices, as well as swings, slides, and connecting bridges. There will be opportunities for kids to play together, as well as places for quiet, individual activity.

 

Take a video tour of this awesome new play space that will anchor Phase I:

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This project has been made possible by the residents of the California Neighborhood and these generous donors:

THE POWER OF COLLABORATION

Owsley Brown III  *  Brooke Brown Barzun  *  Augusta Brown Holland

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Congressman John Yarmuth

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L.L. Jones, Sr Charitable Fund

The Housing Partnership, Inc. 

Herman H. Nettelroth Fund

Lift A Life Novak Family         

     Foundation, Inc.

Old National Bank Foundation

The Norton Foundation, Inc.

Richard & Nancy Wimsatt Family

     Charitable Fund

Strand Associates, Inc.

UPS Foundation

AARP

The Cralle Foundation, Inc.

Enterprise Holdings Foundation

GRW Engineers

Brown-Forman Corporation

The Gilbert Foundation, Inc.

Cornerstone Engineering, Inc.

LG&E KU Foundation

Magna Engineers, PLLC

Alice and Barry Bridges

Janet Holliday

William E. Barth Foundation

Bryant Associates

Daniel Clay Kelly

Jacobi, Toombs & Lanz, Inc.

Susan Bentley

Network for Good

Coulter Mapping Solutions Inc

7NT Engineering LLC

Nicole Breyette

Sherrie Morgan

AUGUST 2009

Historic flood when over 7 inches of rain fell in just 75 minutes 

114 PROPERTIES

Purchased through a FEMA grant (out of 128 eligible properties)

20+ ACRES

Vacant land, most permanently conserved through FEMA grant

750+ SURVEYS

Completed by residents to date with ideas on recreational amenities, playground features, and park name

1% OF LAND

Currently dedicated to parks and greenspace in the California neighborhood

100 NATIVE TREES

To be planted across the park site

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MAPLE STREET: August 9, 2009

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BEFORE Disaster Recovery

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AFTER Flood Mitigation

and Conservation

FROM CATASTROPHE TO CONSERVATION

 

On August 4, 2009, Louisville experienced a historic weather event when more than seven inches of rain fell in just 75 minutes. While thousands of homes in the West End were flooded, Maple Street between Dr. W.J. Hodge and 26th Streets was devastated, with some residents needing rescue by boat. This low-lying area overlays a streambed that was encapsulated with a combined sewer in the early 1900s.

Following a presidential disaster declaration, flood mitigation funds became available to improve public health and safety. Louisville’s Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) secured a $9.75 million FEMA grant to acquire and raze more than 100 properties in the Maple Street Flood Mitigation Area, allowing residents the opportunity to move out of harm’s way. MSD purchased 114 parcels through the voluntary FEMA grant program and Louisville’s Land Bank obtained additional vacant or abandoned properties in the area.

 

As a result, the site encompasses more than 20 acres over seven city blocks, most permanently conserved greenspace to prevent future residential flooding. But in its current state, the vacant land it is unusable to the public.

Now, more than 13 years since the flooding catastrophe, the area’s promise is finally poised to be realized as it is transformed into an exceptional public park.

"As an active citizen in my community, I participated in MSD's neighborhood meetings where residents prioritized the ways we want to see this area activated as a public amenity. I'm excited about this plan for Maple Street which highlights the aspirations we have for our neighborhood, including more public greenspace and less vacant properties for public recreation, relaxation, and enjoyment."
                                         
                                          DREEMA JACKSON
                                                              California resident and Parks Alliance Board Member
"The Maple Street Greenspace Project is important to me because it will create a productive community space and beautify what is now essentially a large vacant lot."

JUAN DAVIS
California resident and Parks Alliance Board Member
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