A group working to establish a botanical garden across from Waterfront Park is making progress. Efforts have sped up over the past year and non-profit Botanica now has a draft agreement with Metro Government for the site.

The organization has a vision of a 22-acre botanical garden, with different themed gardens and a conservatory for indoor plants. Botanica board president Brian Voelker says the outdoor gardens will be designed to maximize the usable space.

“But also to give a real sense of tranquility, to create a wonderful, enjoyable environment that folks would like to stroll through, as well as to connect people with nature and help them really appreciate not only the plants, but birds and insects and other animals that are enjoying the space as well,” he said.

Right now, the proposed site is where the old Ohio Street Dump used to be, across from Waterfront Park at Frankfort Avenue. Voelker says once the agreement with the city is finalized, the first step will be an environmental analysis of the site.

“Because we’re planning to welcome the public to the site, we want to make sure we do a comprehensive analysis so that we can be sure the site is as clean as we expect it to be,” he said.

The analysis will also evaluate whether the site is stable enough for construction. The Ohio Street Dump was closed in 1973, and was listed as a Superfund site, though it was never on the National Priorities List of the most contaminated sites.

Voelker says previous feasibility studies have demonstrated that Louisville can support a botanical garden, and the project would attract both tourists and local residents.

Mayor’s spokesman Chris Poynter says the draft agreement with Metro Government would let Botanica lease the land for $10 a year for an initial seven years, with an option to purchase.