Today’s Solutions: September 25, 2022

600 acres of neglected land in the state of Indiana is finally going to be transformed into Origin Park—a climate-adaptive park that had been in the works for several years and was supposed to be completed in 2021. Of course, due to unavoidable delays, the project didn’t break ground until recently.

The designers and collaborators of Origin Park, which will be situated just across the river from Louisville, have three goals for this massive project: climate resiliency, cultural and historical education, and positive community impact.

Designing a climate-resilient park

Landscape Architect and President/CEO at the Olin Studio Lucinda Sanders knew that if she were to redevelop this vast region in a climate-resilient way, she must consider the future of the Ohio River. She took into account that the river will probably hold 30 percent more water in 50 years than it does currently, and so implemented elevated walkways and ground-level walkways to mitigate flooding. The ground-level walkways will serve as paddling areas until the water level lowers again. 

Origin Park is the first park to be planned with climate-related changes in mind anywhere in the Midwest region of the country.

Highlighting the rich cultural and historical significance of the region

“Origin Park is designed around the Ohio River and centers around the ‘dynamic factors’ from which the water comes,” explains Susan Rademacher, the executive director of River Heritage Conservancy. “From the standpoint of the master plan, everything about this place comes back to the water.”

The land along the Ohio River that is to be made into Origin Park comes with a rich history, including claims of being the launching point for the Lewis and Clark expedition. It also sits on a location that has been a river crossing point for the first European settlers, as well as the site for the end of the Underground Railroad that helped slaves escape to safety during the Civil War.

Scattered throughout the park will be historical markers and engaging story-telling displays that highlight the region’s historical and cultural significance.

Impacting the community in a positive way

The park, which will cost an estimated $130 million to build, will be one of the biggest park systems in the country. It will have several amenities for visitors to enjoy, like a canoe and kayak launch, offices, event centers, a canopy walk, a network of pedestrian and multi-use pathways, and much more.

Around 1.2 million people live within a half-hour drive from the park, which means that many people will have the opportunity to come and learn about the space and appreciate its stunning nature. Those behind the project hope to share information about the local ecosystems and educate visitors on its sustainable actions.

The park will also economically support the area by providing around 2,300 employment opportunities. 

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