Wednesday July 24, 2024
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Third District Congressman John Yarmuth, Metro Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton and others were on hand Saturday as Louisville Parks and Recreation unveiled a new bicycle pump track in Shawnee Park as part of the West Louisville Appreciation Day festival.

“This pump track is another exciting way for young people in West Louisville and throughout our city to experience the outdoors and have fun in one of the many award-winning parks right here in our community. It was an honor to join Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton and so many West Louisville residents as we cut the ribbon on this great new addition to Shawnee Park,” Congressman Yarmuth said.

The new pump track was funded with assistance from the Aetna Foundation and built by 12 youths working over the summer who participated in Mayor Greg Fischer’s Summerworks Program and the Louisville ECHO (Louisville is Engaging Children Outdoors) program.

The project has benefitted by support from the National Park Service who provided planning assistance and U.S. Forest Service who has providing funding support for Louisville ECHO.

It’s a feature of the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative (WLORI), which began nearly a decade ago, and, under which, plans for a new Outdoor Learning Center in Shawnee Park were released last week. Those plans can be viewed on Louisville Parks and Recreation’s website,

A pump track is a type of off-road terrain for cycle sport consisting of a circuit of banked turns and features designed to be ridden completely by riders “pumping” – creating momentum by up and down body movements.

The plans were also displayed at an information booth set up by staff from Jefferson Memorial Forest and Louisville Parks and Recreation’s Natural Areas Division on Saturday.

Other components of WLORI include a new boat ramp in Shawnee Park (construction will take place in 2019) and the proposed restoration of the pond in nearby Chickasaw Park for better fishing access.

“Where a person lives has a profound impact on how they live – particularly when it comes to their health,” said Jonathan Copley CEO of Aetna Better Health of Kentucky. “The West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative is an outstanding example of how important progress can be made when communities work together to look at the biggest issues facing their neighborhoods and develop healthy, home-grown solutions. We are pleased to be a contributor to today’s unveiling.”

Photo: Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation

As part of a multi-year effort creating improvements at Shawnee Park, Mayor Greg Fischer and other local officials dedicated the newly upgraded and historic Dirt Bowl courts Tuesday morning. The annual Dirt Bowl tournament, in its 48th year, begins this year on Saturday, June 17 at Shawnee Park.

Many of the city’s and region’s leading hoops figures– including Darrell Griffith, Tony Kimbro, Artis Gilmore, Louie Dampier and Derek Anderson – have competed in the tournament. In addition to the high-quality of competition in the tournament, the Dirt Bowl is also been recognized as cultural and social summertime institution in west Louisville.

Just last year, a book titled “I Said Bang: A History Of The Dirt Bowl” was released by the Louisville Story Project outlining the significance of the tournament, from its beginnings in 1969 when it was created by Janis Carter and Ben Watkins.

In conjunction with an underground basin project that is ongoing in the park and is slated to continue through 2018, MSD has committed to making several improvements to the park, including new playing surfaces at Hornung Field, a new open-air pavilion and restrooms and the restoration of the lily pond and Ball House – the future home of the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative.

“These changes will transform the park and bring amenities that will be enjoyed at Shawnee Park for generations to come,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “The short-term inconvenience due to MSD’s work in the park will result in a long-term gain.”

“I’m so glad that the MSD basin project has made the improvements to the Dirt Bowl courts possible. They are heavily used courts and will be able to extend the enjoyment and usage of the courts for years to come for patrons of all ages,” said Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, who represents District 5, which includes Shawnee Park.

The work on the basketball courts consists of new fiberglass backboards, a scoreboard, concrete pads and bleachers as well as an enhanced electrical system for the court and nearby surroundings. The courts have also been slightly moved so that the evening sun will not be in the player’s faces, something that has been a long been a challenge at the Dirt Bowl.

“Everything about the Dirt Bowl experience, from the people in the stands listening to the call of the game and watching it on the court, to the players participating in it, will be enhanced because of this work,” said Seve Ghose, Director of Metro Parks and Recreation. “These are crowd-pleasing improvements and we’re looking forward to a great summer at Shawnee Park.”