Parks for All Action Plan Announced: $1 million matching gift pledged to spur investment in park equity and excellence

January 25, 2023

Mayor Craig Greenberg and the Parks Alliance of Louisville unveiled the Parks For All Action Plan, a comprehensive, long-term roadmap to build equity and excellence in Louisville’s public park system which includes 120 parks, 14 community centers, pools, golf courses, greenways, parkways, and two historic homes. The 15-year initiative calls for gradually increasing park system funding to reach parity with the national average for comparably sized cities.

The Louisville Metro Park System has faced decades of underfunding in capital, operating, and personnel resources—just $43 per resident vs. an average of $118 per resident in 18 peer cites. As a result, 55% of Metro parks are now in “poor” or “fair” condition.

To address this inequity, the Parks for All Action Plan was developed by the non-profit Parks Alliance of Louisville working with nationally recognized park experts. Launched in August 2021, they analyzed the physical condition of every Metro park and issues affecting people in surrounding neighborhoods, including poverty and crime rates, air quality, and health outcomes. Finally, they contracted for a city-wide poll to ask residents what they want from their parks.

The 900 respondents overwhelmingly said that quality, well-maintained parks are a top priority. Eighty-six percent want the city to invest more resources in parks, with most funds going to rehabilitating what we have, followed by better day-to-day maintenance, recreational programming, and capital investment in new designs and amenities.

“Louisville needs a sustained infusion of new funds and an action plan to bring equity and excellence to every park in every neighborhood,” said Mayor Greenberg, pledging to be Louisville’s “Mayor of Parks.” He cited the myriad benefits quality parks bring—including creating new jobs, improving health outcomes, and fostering safer, more stable communities. “Unfortunately, some of the neighborhoods that could benefit the most from great parks and recreation services have seen the least investment. Today, we pledge to change that with this bold new vision.”

The Parks Alliance, whose mission is to drive equitable investment in Louisville’s public parks, announced a $1 million challenge pledge from siblings Owsley Brown III, Brooke Brown Barzun, and Augusta Brown Holland to attract additional support from the public, philanthropic, and business communities.

“This gift marks an inflection point for Louisville,” said President and CEO Brooke Pardue. “The Alliance is so grateful to these local leaders for this incredible gift and believe it will be the catalyst for critically needed new investments from every sector to bolster our treasured public park system.”

The main elements of the Parks for All Action Plan are:

  • Dedicate more financial resources over time to deliver fundamental park and recreation services.  
  • Utilize data to allocate funds equitably. By combining park condition data and community context data, parks in neighborhoods with the greatest need are prioritized for early investment. As a result of more investment in maintenance, rehabilitation, recreational programming, and capital projects, parks in all neighborhoods will see some degree of improvement, but substantial funding will flow first to parks in the neighborhoods that need it most.  
  • Restructure the Louisville Parks and Recreation Department’s policies, practices, and operations to reflect national best practices, support equitable investments, and provide quality service delivery.  
  • Better utilize our network of community centers to deliver recreational programming with budgets distributed more equitably to provide greater resources to neighborhoods with greater needs. Over time, restructure the centers into a three-tiered system—Neighborhood, Community, and Regional Centers—with expanded hours and staff to deliver more robust services. And because only one site was built to function as a recreational center, explore rehabbing or building new centers to fill gaps.  
  • Adopt a coordinated strategy among park non-profits to amplify impact. A consortium of the Parks Alliance, Olmsted Parks Conservancy, and Wilderness Louisville will be established to ensure shared goals and strong coordination with Louisville Parks and Recreation.

District 14 Councilwoman Cindi Fowler, immediate past Chair of the Parks and Sustainability Committee pledged her ongoing support of the Action Plan. Under her leadership, the Council unanimously passed a resolution in December 2022 endorsing the plan and has already funded the search for a new director of the Parks and Recreation Department with the experience and expertise to implement Parks for All.

District 4 Councilman, Jecorey Arthur, current Chair of the Parks and Sustainability Committee was on hand to speak to the future. "Louisville has some of the best parks in America, but some Louisvillians don't have access to them. Parks For All changes that," said Councilman Arthur. "When we take action on this plan, people will see, hear, and feel the differences that well supported parks make in our communities." Both Councilwoman Fowler and Councilman Arthur served on the Parks For All Local Project Team from the inception of the initiative in August 2021.

To see the full Parks for All Action Plan, visit Parks For All | Parks Alliance of Louisville (

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