The Frankfort Parks Master Plan Committee last week weighed the merits of different priorities and projects for parks and recreation facilities across town.
The group met to go over a set of draft projects created by consultants with Brandstetter Carroll. The consultants said they would present a draft version of a parks master plan at the committee's next meeting, which will potentially be held in late April.
The draft list puts potential projects and improvements on a spectrum from short-term to long-term for the following parks: Capitol View, East Frankfort, Juniper Hill, Cove Spring, Leslie Morris Park at Fort Hill and River View.
“Neighborhood parks” such as Dolly Graham Park, Todd Park, Thorn Hill Playground and Holmes Street Playground are also given priority lists.
Dolly Graham has most recently been in the city policy conversation as a historically overlooked park. Having not been upgraded since the early 1990s, the park is seeing significant improvements; renovated restrooms and a new splash pad, basketball court and playground are coming soon.
Still, the parks list details shorter-term projects like sprucing up the area with picnic tables and signage along with a higher-dollar proposal for an indoor neighborhood program building.
For an often unmentioned park space like the one along Holmes Street, consultant Keith Rodenhauser said one simple short-term fix might be cutting some vegetation to increase visibility of the park.
“We would be able to see it, the neighbors would be able to see it, and then maybe we could add some features,” Rodenhauser said. “If the city is trying to invest in that particular neighborhood, this is a good way to do it — it helps improve both the neighborhood and the park for everyone. And there's a lot of demand for a dog park in Frankfort, and there aren't very many places to put it. There is enough land in this particular place that we could theoretically do that.”
When the seven members of the Parks Master Plan Committee were asked to rank Frankfort’s parks in order of importance, the top four in order came out as Capitol View, Dolly Graham, East Frankfort and River View. Leslie Morris Park at Fort Hill came in at a close fifth.
Long-term potential projects listed for Capitol View Park were new artificial fields, a splash pad and a playground for visitors to use. East Frankfort Park ideas were shelter and playground replacements and the creation of a splash pad.
Increasing access to the river, shelter space and play space is a consistent long-term goal for most all parks.
One dilemma Rodenhauser mentioned at Juniper Hill is the fact that the golf course operates at a loss.
“The golf course currently operates at a fairly substantial deficit,” Rodenhauser said. “And so the city should look at if they want to continue to subsidize at that level. And what might be needed in order to change that, maybe increase in fees, especially for people who don't live in the city.”
One idea brought up by committee member Melanie VanHouten, who runs Josephine Sculpture Park, is the city’s parks plan as it relates to the potential development of an indoor events venue at Franklin County's Lakeview Park.
“It definitely will require partnerships and certainly the city and the county shouldn't do something separately,” Rodenhauser said. “They're not both going to do it, so it's necessary for the city and the county to work together on something like that. The city has limited space to build such a facility and the county does have space at Lakeview, so it's definitely a good potential partnership.”
One concern expressed about an existing park was the damage that flooding has caused to River View Park, located along the Kentucky River downtown.
Frankfort Parks Director Shawn Pickens mentioned a potential funding source for cleaning up the park: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“Typically after two major events that have damaged the same exact area, FEMA will fund a major mitigation project, which is what we're pushing for,” Pickens said. “So we're very hopeful for that later this year ... that project will happen and it will be a permanent fix to River View instead of the temporary fixes that have been done in the past.”