Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Building on Olmsted: Dan Jones and 21st Century Parks

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Building on Olmsted: Dan Jones and 21st Century Parks

Article excerpt

In a mid-life crisis, Dan Jones evolved from realtor to park visionary. Inspired by visions of the great park designer Frederick Olmsted and the need for more parks in Louisville, Kentucky, Jones became chief executive officer of the nonprofit 21st Century Parks. He has led in creating the Parklands of Floyds Fork, including the acquisition of 3,800 acres, an extraordinarily large package of undeveloped land, for the people of Louisville. "Our goal is within five years it will be complete and open to the public. We are beginning to convert from park developer to park operator," says the Louisville native.

A self described perpetual student, with a PhD in Western History, Jones has long been an admirer of Olmsted, who created a ring of parks and parkways that remain one of Louisville's most-valued assets. He recalls frequent trips to "Big Rock" in the Olmsted-designed Cherokee Park. "The park was just 100 yards wide and had houses on either side," But in the summer, cloaked in dense foliage, the spot seemed like a nature sanctuary. "My mother would take me to splash in the creek and then to climb up on the rock. Olmsted had the brilliance to create a place to implant a love of nature in a child's mind, while at the same time, he was able to shape the city."

While working as a realtor in Louisville, he and his father David Jones, a philanthropist who was a Humana executive developed and donated a 110-acre park to the city. In the process, Dan became involved in parks discussion at a series of meetings devoted to the question: what should our generation be doing to have the same impact as Olmstead in the 21st century? …

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