Donor-created Public Parks in Louisville

  • Nature, Animals & Parks
  • 2004

Native son David Jones co-founded Humana Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky, and built it into one of America’s largest private health-care companies. Along the way he participated in many initiatives to improve his home city, but none bigger than the Parklands—a project to create nearly 4,000 acres of brand-new parks in Louisville and then operate them permanently with no public money. Starting in 2004, Jones took responsibility for raising $71 million of private donations; his family provided about $15 million themselves, and he made 100 personal visits and countless calls to raise the remaining funds from 550 individuals, foundations, and companies. His son, Dan Jones, took direction of the nonprofit charged with acquiring land and then designing and building the facilities, including 100 miles of hiking, biking, and paddling trails, playgrounds, a scenic drive, and numerous buildings. The same nonprofit will operate and maintain the facilities (which began to open in 2011, and were two thirds complete in 2015). The Jones family also contributed a large portion of a separate $60 million endowment that the nonprofit will use to meet the annual expenses of operating and maintaining the five major new greenspaces. The Parklands “will always be a donor-supported park,” notes Dan Jones, fully open to the public, but run without any taxpayer support.

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