Community

The Waterfront Botanical Gardens held their official groundbreaking event Friday at the corner of Frankfort Avenue and River Road.

The estimated total cost of the full build-out of the project is roughly $50 million, which the organization anticipates will take about 10 years.

But board president Dominic Gratto says the pay-off for the community will be immense.

“This is about more than plants; it’s about environmental education,” Gratto says. “It’s about sharing the wonder of the natural world with the people around us. It’s about creating a beautiful place to get away from the business of life.”

And, he says, it’s about teaching the children in our community about caring for and restoring green spaces around us — which features into the story of the lot upon which the botanical garden will be developed.

The 23-acre site was an active landfill for about 40 years until 1980. It was then covered with 30 feet of dirt and sat vacant.

Karen Wilson of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet says turning the lot into a botanical garden sets an example other organizations can follow.

“It aligns with our core mission in the cabinet and fulfills so many of our agency’s goals,” says Wilson, “including redeveloping sites that provide innumerable and unimaginable benefits to the community.”

Development of the first phase of the Waterfront Botanical Gardens, which includes a family education center and educational gardens, will begin immediately.

They should be open in Spring 2018.

Ashlie Stevens is WFPL's Arts & Culture Reporter.