Louisville Proceeds With Golf Course Management Bids Following Greens Fee Hike Friday, Nov 8 2019 

The Louisville Metro Council passed a measure last month to raise greens fees in an attempt to sustain all of the city’s 10 struggling public golf courses. But Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration is planning to move ahead with a request for proposals for outside golf course management.

The city received 13 responses to its request. Officials expect evaluation of the proposals to be done by the middle of November, with any successful contracts in place by the end of the year. No council members will serve on the evaluation committee, city officials said in a recent letter to Council President David James.

If the city does not decide to award contracts for any golf courses based on the RFP, Metro Parks and Recreation will run those courses until the administration selects a management company.

The council’s fee hike measure last month won 22 of 26 votes, and made it a requirement to employ a golf pro at each city-owned course. The pros are also allowed to submit proposals to manage public golf courses.

Councilwoman Cindi Fowler, of District 14, led the effort to increase greens fees with the legislation passed in October. Most of the city’s 10 courses have failed to break even or make a profit in recent years.

She is skeptical that outside management companies would help the courses.

“It’s just important that we don’t block ourselves in with a management company that is going to come from another state and take the revenue from our courses,” she said.

One organization that submitted a proposal is straying from the script: the nonprofit Olmsted Parks Conservancy said it wants to convert Cherokee Golf Course into park land and merge it into the adjacent Cherokee Park.

Fowler is critical of Olmsted’s decision to publicly share its proposal, and to run a survey asking about during the RFP period. She called the moves “reckless,” and suggested the nonprofit is trying to sway decisions.

Olmsted president and CEO Layla George declined to respond directly to that criticism. She said the proposal and survey are meant to give people an alternative to the binary choice of either closing a course or keeping it open.

“There’s nothing on the other side,” she said. “So this is a way for us to sort of gauge public opinion and say, ‘OK, if you want something else on these golf course properties, then make your voice heard.'”

So far, more than 1,200 people have responded to the survey, including current and former golfers, as well as those who don’t golf. The vast majority of them are in favor of turning Cherokee Golf Course back into a park, an Olmsted representative said.

 

Neighbors Fundraise As Tyler Park Restoration Costs Outstrip Budget Monday, Aug 12 2019 

It’s unlikely that the larger of Tyler Park’s two tennis courts will be redone this year as costs for the whole project are higher than originally anticipated.

The project was originally budgeted at $1.12 million, with most of the money coming from the Olmsted Parks Conservancy and some from Metro government. That was meant to cover a variety of upgrades, including adding a restroom building and wheelchair access, as well as redoing the tennis courts.

Olmsted President and CEO Layla George said that fundraising for the restoration was done three years ago. But the bids that came in this year were higher than they had expected.

“It’s disappointing to invest well over a million dollars into a park and not feel like it’s enough to finish it,” she said.

Olmsted itself put in $840,000. The city originally committed $275,000 to the project, but when George was faced with the shortfall, she turned to Metro Government for more funding to support the wheelchair ramp. It carved out an additional $120,000 in this year’s budget for that, bringing its total investment close to $400,000. And the Tyler Park Neighborhood Association contributed about $5,000.

“We had to cut something from the project,” George said. “We decided that the four-court would be a compelling fundraising pitch to the neighborhood and the tennis community.”

The plan calls for converting the four tennis court structure into two tennis courts, a half basketball court and two pickleball courts.

George said that conversion will cost $125,000 if someone can raise the money by the park’s ribbon-cutting, which is planned for Sept. 25. Without the full amount, they’ll have to pursue a new bid, which could cost more. But she said regardless, Olmsted isn’t raising more money for the project.

Now the Tyler Park Neighborhood Association is taking up that cause.

So far, the group has raised about $18,000, mostly from its 20 board members. It sent out letters to association members earlier this month, and plans to solicit donations from all Tyler Park residents and others across the city in its next phase of fundraising. To that end, the group added a donate button to its website over the weekend.

“We are going to try and make the deadline. We know that construction is moving along pretty quickly,” neighborhood association board member Shawn Reilly said. “If we can get the money before the crew leaves the park, then we can get that discount rate on the construction costs.”

With another $107,000 needed and a little more than a month to go, raising all the funds will be a challenge. Reilly said that if the group misses this deadline, it will continue raising in hopes of meeting a larger future target. And if that fails, he said they will put the money into a smaller project in the park.

Victory Park Renovations Complete With Community Input Friday, Jul 19 2019 

Norman Parker says he remembers a time when Louisville was tearing out the playgrounds and benches in the parks around the California neighborhood.

But on Friday — more than a decade later — Mayor Greg Fischer, the Olmstead Conservancy and neighbors cut the ribbon on a $1.1 million revitalization project at Victory Park in that neighborhood.

The 4.4 acre park now boasts a new playground, splash pad, walking path, basketball court and other amenities.

Parker was among community leaders who helped guide the project.

“The park is the heartbeat of the neighborhood,” Parker said. “And so to be a part of what it is now, to see them making investments, and to see them making it where the kids can come and play, that alone speaks to the change of the neighborhood.”

With funding from community partners, the Olmsted Parks Conservancy and Louisville Parks and Recreation worked with neighbors to design a park for the neighborhood, by the neighborhood.

Residents had a hand at nearly every point in the decision-making process, Parker said.

“What Olmsted went in and implemented was what the community voiced their opinion on,” he said.

The improvements at Victory Park are part of the city’s larger plan to reinvest in west Louisville. Fischer said that includes about a billion dollars in investment — the most in generations.

“I think in many ways this renovation is a reminder of what’s going on in west Louisville these days,” he said.

Victory Park is also just one of a number of other parks that have recently received, or are undergoing renovations. New playgrounds are being installed or were recently installed at Boone Square, Algonquin and Elliott Square Park.

Tyler Park in east Louisville is currently undergoing its own $1.1 million renovation. Last year, workers completed the Bonnycastle Pavilion at Cherokee Park.

Parker also said the changes at Victory Park underscore the progress the city has made in the West End. People are already using the park more than in the past, he said.

And he says that’s important, because the park is a community space.

“The park is where people come together in times when they’re sad, happy, celebrating, mourning,” Parker said. “No matter what we’re dealing with, whether it’s a loss, a death, a celebration of life, a birth, we utilize the park.”

Project donors included the Humana Foundation, James Graham Brown Foundation, Kosair Charities and PNC Foundation, Brown Forman Foundation and GE Appliances.

Ryan Van Velzer | wfpl.org