TSWDG staff was recently invited to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for Jeffersontown's Veterans Park Phase 2. Ron Taylor provided the following comments on the process and future of the space.
Thanks for inviting me here today. My name is Ron Taylor and I am with Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group, the planners and landscape architects that led this design effort. I want to share just a few thoughts on the design of the park today.
We first started working on the master plan for Veterans Park back in 2014. At that time, the City was already well into its process of rethinking what the City of Jeffersontown could be and had already begun to transform its downtown and other facilities into iconic institutions. They were already well on their way to making Jeffersontown a unique place, unlike any other place in the region, and the master plan for a new Veterans Memorial Park was the next logical step in the City’s critical thinking.
When we started that master plan, Veterans Park was a popular and well-used park on the northern ridge of this site. The City understood that an update was needed, but had bigger visions about what this park could become.
This lower portion of the park site was an old water treatment plant that would soon be abandoned. This offered a unique opportunity for the City to re-envision what this site could be and how it could become part of the overall park.
Working with the City and residents, we re-imagined what the park could be, how it could be used, and what types of resources were needed for the park space. It became obvious during that planning process that we were in the early stages of creating something special. I’m not sure if we comprehended fully at the time, but we had laid the groundwork for creating one of the region’s next GREAT PLACES with this plan.
As planned, Veterans Park would become a world-class public park unlike anything else that had been designed, and, like the City’s other efforts, would be unique to Jeffersontown.
The upper park included the iconic and award-winning Freedom Wall, Jeffersontown’s tribute to the enduring legacy of local veterans. The planned Trian Memorial, too, will expand upon the telling of Jeffersontown’s unique war-time heritage. A new universally-accessible playground was designed for children of all ability levels. New walks and shelters expanded the potential use for users of all ages. The plan took a very popular park space and began its evolution into a truly regional outdoor destination.
This portion of the site provided new opportunities for the City as well. At its centerpiece is a new performance pavilion that is envisioned to provide numerous opportunities for community use and the ability to attract regional and national acts for performances in the community. As you can see from the renderings, this facility also will be iconic and is unlike any other performance venue in the region.
But this plan also provided new opportunities for creating other public open spaces. The new Grand Lawn will create spaces for both passive and active recreational opportunities, and the site opens up new public interfaces with a portion of Chenoweth Creek that has never been accessible to residents before.
All combined, when this work is finished, Jeffersontown once again will have created a unique, world-class park right here in the heart of Jeffersontown!
I would like to take a moment to recognize the design firms that were part of the design team for this project:
Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group- Landscape Architects and Master Designers
Joseph & Joseph/Bravura- Architects
QK4- Civil Engineers
Kerr-Gruelich Engineers- Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Engineers
KLH- Site Electrical
Harvey Marshall Berling Associates- Theatrical Design
·KPFF- Structural Engineers
Jacoby Toombs and Lanz- Surveyors
As a designer, we often use renderings and drawings to help illustrate how our designs will ultimately look. And we have done that as you can see from some of the renderings that are displayed here today.
But sometimes, we can also use words and storytelling to best describe what will come out of that design process. Having worked since the early planning stages of this project, and having sat in on the many community conversations about this park and its design, let me share a couple of things you will be able to expect from this park once it is completed:
This will be a once-in-a-generation type of park, founded in opportunities that aren’t usually available to communities and with a level of community support and funding not always available to all communities.
It will be a multi-generational park:
Families will spend summer afternoons picnicking and playing in the park.
Kids of all abilities will play together and experience the feeling of belonging.
Somewhere in this park, two kids will fall in love and decide to spend the rest of their lives together---maybe even getting married right here in the park.
Grandparents will share their stories of war and triumph as they visit the memorials with their kids and grandkids.
The accessible trails will allow people of all ages and abilities to experience the outdoors.
People will attend concerts, markets, health fairs and other events held in the park.
I imagine that people will come here for family photos or senior pictures, using this great structure and the park as the ideal setting to capture images of their life.
Some kid will get his or her first taste of the performing arts on this stage and it will ignite a life-long passion in the arts.
In this portion of the site, music will fill the air, performances from the local school bands, the local symphony, or even regional touring acts.
I suspect that this park will play host to many State Championship Victory celebrations in the coming years as well as school plays or band performances.
Pick up soccer games, food trucks, music festivals and other community events will take place on the Grand Lawn.
Someone will take a job and move to this great City because of the quality of life experiences they see happening in this park. Or even more importantly, some residents will make the decision to stay here and make Jeffersontown home and their experiences here at Veterans Park may be part of that decision.
Some company will relocate here because of the synergies they see in the park.
And I suspect that this community will find ways to use these great new park features that have not even been imagined yet.
This park, and the facilities we are breaking ground on today, will be transformational for the community and will create a park like no other!
Mayor, Council members, and residents of Jeffersontown, we congratulate you and the City on this major milestone and thank you for partnering with us on the design of this world-class park. We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to have been part of such a great project and are excited to see the vision become the reality!