Weed warriors worked Saturday to uncover remnants of Frankfort’s first public park that have been overrun with invasive species of plants for decades.
In its day, Melodye Park, located along the bank of the Kentucky River, stretched 9 acres from Admiral Landing to the interchange of Todd Street and Old Lawrenceburg Road.
In the late 1930s, Louis Horwitz acquired the land and built the park for his daughter Melodye. He built fish ponds, boat docks, a waterfall, stone paths, fountains and gardens. Two pagodas were built where dances and concerts were held. Hundreds of tulips and rose bushes decorated the property. The park was open to the public at no charge.
After a flood in the 1950s, the park closed because of extensive damage, and was eventually subdivided and homes were built.
One of the about five property owners, Greg Isaacs, who lives on Admirals Landing, is working with the Remove Invasives Partnership (RIP) of Franklin County to remove invasive plants on the property and river bank to reveal remnants of the park and stabilize the river bank.
“I want to be a good steward of the land,” Isaacs said.
He and his son Dylan worked through the summer clearing winter creeper, bush honeysuckle and Japanese knotweed from his property. In the process, they uncovered a stone wall that boarded the park.
“I want to bring back the beauty,” Isaacs said. “This is an oasis.”
Isaacs' neighbor Nick Petit started clearing invasive plants from his property when he bought it in 1983.
"I didn't know the park was here until we started clearing it," Petit said of his property, where there are remnants of pagodas, a rock terrace and stone walls.
Joyce Bender, a volunteer botanist with RIP and retired manager for the Kentucky Nature Preserve System, worked alongside other volunteers Saturday on the bank of the Kentucky River on Isaacs' property clearing winter creeper that had overtaken the canopy of cottonwood, sycamore and black locust trees on the bank.
“By improving the conditions of the banks, we’re improving the aesthetics,” Bender said. “It will look a lot nicer for people on boats. The river is a jewel to have run through town.”
Using saws, volunteers worked to cut through the thick vines of winter creeper at the base of the trees. Then, they would spray the exposed plant with herbicide to kill it so it doesn’t grow back.
Every time Chris Schimmoeller cut through a vine, a popping noise was made.
“I love that noise,” said Schimmoeller, a volunteer with RIP.
Bender said if the winter creeper isn’t removed, it would eventually overtake the tree, causing it to die and fall, which makes the river bank unstable.
“This is an example of a river in crisis,” Schimmoeller said. “If this keeps going, these trees are going to die.”
Schimmoeller said removing invasives has to become routine.
“Dealing with invasives has to be routinely treated, like doing your lawn,” she said.
Joel Fischer, a resident of South Frankfort, was also working with RIP on Saturday and said that he has noticed the problem of invasives on his property and his neighbors’ properties.
“This is a big problem in Frankfort,” Fischer said. “Hopefully, the work we’re doing inspires other people to get out and help take care of their property.”