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. The first phase of park construction—on five of the site’s roughly 20 acres—began in March 2023 and will celebrate the community's unique culture and heritage.
Phase One will include all of the community’s most-requested features:
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 the new park at Maple Street, 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.The results will be announced in early November!
Here are all of the survey results...
Top five choices based on community surveys collected from 2016-2021
What design theme reflects the unique qualities of the California Neighborhood?
Playground Theme and Features
100 children and families gave input through July 2022
The 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:
Historic flood when over 7 inches of rain fell in just 75 minutes
Purchased through a FEMA grant (out of 128 eligible properties)
Vacant land, most permanently conserved through FEMA grant
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
MAPLE STREET: August 9, 2009
BEFORE Disaster Recovery
AFTER Flood Mitigation
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.