Maple Street Land Use Planning Project

Maple Street Green Space Community Partnership Opportunities

Louisville MSD owns approximately 18 acres of open space in the California and Victory Park neighborhoods where if community partnerships and/or future owners are realized, could become a sustainable community asset in an area of our city that’s the focus of much revitalization and opportunity.  The green space was created in the Maple Street corridor through the award of a $9.75 million FEMA grant that allowed MSD to assist flood prone residents in moving out of harm’s way after disastrous flooding in 2009.

Though the land is federally deed restricted to remain a natural open space, multiple uses are possible. The area is loosely bounded by Broadway, Garland Avenue, W 28th Street and Dr. W.J. Hodge Street.

Following successful implementation of the FEMA grant, extensive community input on future uses, as well as Metro’s parallel neighborhood planning effort to reflect the vision of “an engaged, unified community that creates opportunities for safe and healthy living where everyone thrives,” has poised this green space for future beneficial use. MSD is seeking partners to transfer ownership and implement a mosaic of potential concepts that emerged from the community engagement process after the land was acquired, including:

  • Natural areas—gardens, trees, etc.
  • Green space—walking trail, playground, picnic areas, etc.
  • Athletic fields—practice fields, track and field, courts

THE MAPLE STREET STORY - The California Neighborhood takes its name for once being the “far west” of Louisville. Maple Street between Dr. W. J. Hodge and 28th Streets is a low-lying area built along a historic streambed and combined sewer that was constructed in the early 1900s. As a result, it is very vulnerable to flooding. That danger became real in August 2009 when Louisville experienced a historic rain event—more than seven inches in just 75 minutes. Victims included thousands of West Louisvillians, including residents on Maple Street, some rescued from their homes by boat.

08/04/2009 2013 2013 - 2020 2016 - 2019 10/2018 - 02/2020
Heavy rains cause massive flooding in Louisville with serious damage on the Maple Street corridor. A Presidential disaster declaration allowed funding to be available to assist impacted residents across the commonwealth. As the local sponsor, MSD secured a $9.75 million grant ($8.48M from FEMA and state of Kentucky/$1.27M from MSD) to fund voluntary homeowner buyouts, moving residents out of harm’s way and creating green space to naturally absorb rainwater. 114 of 128 eligible flood-prone properties purchased through the FEMA grant. The purchased structures are demolished and soil tests completed, creating nearly 18 acres of open space in the California Neighborhood. 20+ neighborhood and community stakeholder gatherings/events allow the collection of 400 surveys to obtain meaningful public input on potential land uses. A California Neighborhood plan is drafted with a vision to be “an engaged, unified community that creates opportunities for safe and healthy living where everyone thrives.” Residents prioritize the Maple Street Flood Mitigation Area as a community asset for tree-planting, sports leagues, public art and urban farming, highlighting the need to create, fundraise, maintain and program new public parks.
01/2019 10/2019 12/2019 2020  
JCPS announces plans to build a new elementary school in the area, combining Roosevelt-Perry and Phillis Wheatley; the new YMCA on Broadway is identified a potential site. New Directions Housing Corporation, a non-profit founded in the California Neighborhood in 1971, relocates its headquarters to the corner of Maple and 17th Streets and begins working with MSD and other community partners to support the creation of more housing and neighborhood amenities. The $28 million Republic Bank Foundation YMCA opens, integrating fitness facilities, a family/pediatric practice, mental health counseling, banking and community meeting space to expand opportunities for everyone to have equitable access to healthy choices. MSD continues discussions with Maple Street neighbors and stakeholders, exploring partnerships to create a sustainable community green space, including identifying a long-term owner and operator with a conservation mission as required by FEMA regulations.  

Maple Street by the Numbers

  • 114 flood-prone properties purchased through FEMA grant (out of 128 eligible)
  • $9.75 million invested to move California residents out of harm’s way
  • Nearly 18 acres of open space in the California Neighborhood
  • 20 community engagement opportunities over 3 years
  • 400+ community survey responses on uses for the site
  • 63% of the California neighborhood is covered by impervious surfaces
  • 438 acres out of 786 (nearly two-thirds) of the California Neighborhood is at very high risk for heat island effect.

To find out more, visit here.

What the Community Said:
Public Input on Preferred Uses (1-5)

Concepts Ranked by Preference

Suitability Ranking

Green Space


Athletic Fields


Market/Festival Area


Community Gardens


Casual Performance/Small Stage


Amphitheater/Raised Pavilion


For more community engagement information: Click here

What are the Property Deed Restrictions?

The FEMA grant enabled homeowners to move from a flood-prone area on and around Maple Street and removed structures that could be damaged by future flood events. Land acquired through the grant is now “deed restricted” under federal regulations and must be permanently conserved as open space to allow the soil to naturally absorb rainwater. In addition, ownership of the Maple Street properties is limited to entities with a conservation mission; or public entities so long as the property is transferred with a conservation easement (this is a legal agreement that permanently limits use of the land to protect its conservation value).

Acceptable uses under the FEMA deed restrictions include:

  • Parks for outdoor recreational activities
  • Wetlands management
  • Nature reserves
  • Cultivation
  • Unimproved, unpaved parking lots
  • Buffer zones

There are restrictions on all future development to prevent flooding of new structures. New structures are restricted to:

  • Public restrooms
  • Public facilities that are open on all sides and functionally related to open space or recreational use
  • Other structures compatible with open space

Any land use changes must be approved by FEMA. Read the Maple Street CFR Deed Restrictions here.


Why weren’t some properties included in the FEMA grant?

Only residential homes which were impacted by the August 4, 2009 flood were eligible to be included in this grant in order to give those residents the opportunity to move out of harm’s way. Neither residentially zoned properties without structures or non-residential structures could be considered for buy-outs, based on FEMA requirements.

Why hasn’t the property been turned into a park?

Operating a park is beyond the scope of MSD’s core mission to provide quality wastewater, stormwater, and flood protection services to protect public health and safety. While MSD’s public engagement efforts have generated many ideas for Maple Street and potential partners interested in providing recreational programming at the site, an entity has not been found to assume ownership and operational responsibility. Federal regulations require ownership by an entity with a conservation mission or a public entity with property transferred with a conservation easement. Explorations continue to identify organizational partners that meet these requirements, allowing next steps to raise needed capital to create and maintain a useable public amenity.

Why aren’t swimming pools or splash parks listed in the concepts surveyed?

Because the area is flood-prone, the properties obtained with FEMA funds must be permanently conserved as open space that allows the soil to naturally absorb rainwater. Paved surfaces like basketball courts, parking lots, swimming pools, etc, are not typically permitted.

Why can’t structures be built on the property?

To prevent flooding and potential harm to buildings, FEMA regulations restrict new structures or other types of impervious surfaces. Two exceptions to this, with FEMA approval, are public restrooms and public facilities that are open on all sides, since they are functionally related to open space and recreational use.

What is your vision?

The Urban Land Institute’s Case for Open Space demonstrates that urban outdoor recreational spaces can counter higher temperatures and improve air quality; strengthen community identity and social cohesion; and promote health and well-being. MSD is committed to bringing these benefits to life in the Maple Street Area. We continue to work in collaboration with neighbors and other stakeholders to transform the nearly 18 acres of green space into a community asset that achieves the vision expressed in the draft California Neighborhood Plan: “to be an engaged, unified community that creates opportunities for safe and healthy living where everyone thrives.”

If you have additional questions, contact MSD at 502-540-6000