Save Otter Creek Park – The Friends of Otter Creek Park Blog


C-J: Grant Rules Call for Opening 2 Trails at Otter Creek by stateofthecommonwealth
January 12, 2009, 3:38 pm
Filed under: OCP News

Interesting news today, from the Courier-Journal. Basically, in 2005 Louisville Metro received a $10,000 federal grant for improvement and development of two trails within Otter Creek Park, and by closing the park, there’s some question of the city being out of compliance. Read on for more details:

Louisville and Metro Parks officials are trying to figure out how they can comply with federal regulations without having to reopen Otter Creek Park.

The city closed the 2,600-acre park in Meade County last week to save about $180,000 for the rest of the fiscal year — part of the effort to deal with a projected $20 million revenue shortfall.

But in closing the park, the city also ended access to two trails for hikers, bikers and horseback riders that were developed or improved with a $10,000 federal grant obtained in 2005.

State officials recently advised the city that the rules on awarding the grant require that the trails be kept open for public use “in perpetuity.” Failing that, the city would be required to develop comparable trails elsewhere.

A complication is that the new location cannot simply be a different park. Rather, the replacements must be developed on newly purchased public land, said Jodie McDonald, branch manager and administrator of the recreational-trails program for the state Department for Local Government.

McDonald said that, because public access is essential, she didn’t see how the city could reopen the trails without reopening the park, whose entrances have been locked.

Under no circumstance does the city intend to reopen Otter Creek Park any time soon, said both Jason Cissell, a spokesman for Metro Parks, and Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Abramson.

“We are not going to do it,” Poynter said.

Cissell said Metro Parks officials expect to negotiate a solution with the Department for Local Government, which administers the trail grants provided by the Federal Highway Administration.

McDonald shot down two possibilities suggested by Metro Parks — that the replacement trails be developed in Jefferson Memorial Forest, which is already public land, or that the city pay back the $10,000.

McDonald said that if the city doesn’t come up with a solution that complies with the federal regulations, the state could lose about $1.3 million a year in federal recreational trail funding.

Cissell said that Metro Parks accepted the $10,000 grant in 2005, matching it with $10,000 of its own. The combined funding went to develop the 3.2-mile Boone Hollow Trail and to make improvements, including signage and drainage work, on a 2.2-mile existing trail named Red Cedar.

“If the fences and gates are locked, people can’t ride these trails,” McDonald said. “And the city then is in noncompliance” with the federal rules. She said her department is waiting for the city to suggest an acceptable alternative.

“We do not see this as a significant issue. We’re confident we’ll resolve this reasonably,” Cissell said.

John Mahorney of Louisville, a mountain-bike enthusiast, said he used the dirt trails at Otter Creek several times a year and has friends who used them weekly.

He said that, if they are not used, the trails will quickly “go back to nature.”

There had been some talk about this grant, and whether it would affect the city’s closure of the park at previous Friends of Otter Creek Park meetings, so it is nice to see that there is an actual basis behind what we’ve heard. Stay tuned for more…

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1 Comment so far
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Has anyone checked to see if they have any plans to possibly use any of that land in the 313 (Prather Hwy) extension? The only way Abramson would cede the 10 grand grant is if he expects a bigger payday???

Comment by Lee Reardon




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