On Sunday, June 10, Louisville’s newest public green space will makes its debut with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony and street festival. Emerson Gardens Park is located on the corner of Hickory and Sylvia streets in the Schnitzelburg neighborhood. The land, formerly the site of the Emerson School, was already home to the Willis B. Ewing Garden, a popular community garden where vegetables are grown. The remaining acreage has been transformed with the addition of a new gazebo, walking paths and playground equipment.
Gary Allen, President of the Schnitzelburg Neighborhood Association, says the park took five long years to come together. The idea for the park came to Allen one day when he was walking down Burnett Street and noticed children from a nearby day-care center playing in a gravel parking lot. “I thought it was a shame they didn’t have a park to go to,” Allen remembers. “As far as I know, this is the first park in this neighborhood.”
Allen credits Metro Councilman Jim King, former Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson and Congressman John Yarmuth for helping to bring his dream into reality. King and Yarmuth are expected to be at the ribbon cutting, which takes place at 5 p.m. at the new gazebo. The street festival starts at 3 p.m. and will include food along with arts and crafts booths. Proceeds will benefit the MUSCL (Ministries United of South Central Louisville) Senior Wellness Center of Schnitzelburg. The music will start at 5:30 p.m., featuring singer/songwriters John Gage and Mickey Clark, along with Pat Younger and his band, the Paloverde.
In a press release, Councilman King says, “We are excited that the new Emerson Gardens Park will be a treasured and popular destination for local residents and the community at large. We want this to be a true neighborhood hub for community gatherings, concerts and performances.”
Mark Pittman lives on Sylvia Street, across from the park. Pittman says the new development is one of the best things to happen in Schnitzelburg in the 18 years he has lived in the area. The Emerson School was still around when Pittman moved into his house. The building was originally an elementary school, but for the last few years of its existence it was a special school for pregnant teens.
“I love the new park,” Pittman exclaims. “It’s so much better than what was there before. When I first moved here it was the school and a big concrete lot. Kids were always breaking the windows and setting the alarm off. The fire department was always running out here unnecessarily.”
Allen says the new Emerson Gardens Park reflects the positive changes happening in the Schnitzelburg area. “We have so many young people moving into the neighborhood and some of them have children,” Allen explains. “They had no park to go to in our neighborhood. We want to follow the Willow Park model and have bands in the summer. It’s going to provide an opportunity for people to get together.”