LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After months of debate, Louisville Parks and Recreation officials announced the reopening of loops at Iroquois and Cherokee Park. Rundill Road in Iroquois Park will reopen to its pre-COVID route immediately, while vehicle access to some parts of Cherokee Park will be restored mid-June.
While the southernmost part of Rundill Road in Iroquois Park will remain closed, the rest of the loop will reopen. Uphill Road and Toppill Road will be open to cars periodically, a map released by Parks and Rec shows.
In Cherokee Park, the southern portion of the Scenic Loop will reopen for access to Hogan's Fountain. A northern portion of the loop will also open, allowing access to the dog park, archery range and soccer field.
Metro Public Works and Parks and Rec will install traffic control measures, signage and newly painted lines prior to reopening parts of the Scenic Loop in mid-June.
Parks officials said there was a two-week delay in the decision-making process as Olmsted Parks Conservancy gathered data on park usage before and after road closures. According to the data, the largest change at Iroquois Park came from visitor origin.
The percentage of visitors from within five miles of the park went from 26 to 41%, which was expected due to the lack of events at Iroquois Amphitheater during the pandemic. Park officials said that was the only significant change during the closure.
At Cherokee Park, though, people from all over the city continued to use the park. The Olmsted Parks Conservancy found that usage increased 80% and average user visit went from 30 minutes to 77 minutes after the closure.
Parks and Rec said about 67% of the more than 7,200 people responding to their survey were in favor of keeping the Scenic Loop in Cherokee Park closed to vehicles. A majority of respondents to a survey regarding Iroquois Park said they were in favor of keep the road open with traffic calming measures in place.
"Reopening the Iroquois Loop and ensuring access to public amenities in Cherokee Park while providing vehicle free recreational opportunities is a great decision for the entire community," said Dana Kasler, Director of Louisville Parks and Recreation.
Metro Council members Amy Holton Stewart (D-25), Cindi Fowler (D-14), Kevin Triplett (D-15) and President David James (D-6) said they were happy to see Iroquois Park's loop opened immediately.
"Our neighbors have been patiently waiting throughout spring for equal access to the park," they said in a joint statement. "We look forward to taking action to ensure any road closure is equitable, afforded necessary public input and done with the consent and approval of the Louisville Metro Council."
Parks officials said road re-openings will be evaluated over a three-month period, during which they will continue to get feedback from park users on the future of both roads. Anyone can share their views by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.