the north face hedgehog iii Blazing a new trail in Southern Indiana greenspace
Is it good enough?
Why settle, Scott Martin asks. Think of the best parks we visit. Let’s insist on something like that here. Let’s do even better by our best advantage of nature. “Give everyone a world class experience and everybody’s happy,” Martin said.
Martin is executive director of the River Heritage Conservancy. This new private group intends to build upon momentum from the public Ohio River Greenway. Think of the greenway a trail from downtown Jeffersonville through Clarksville to downtown New Albany as only a beginning. “The bones are in place and they’re amazing bones,” Martin said.
Let’s put flesh on those bones, Martin goes on. Let’s plan carefully. Let’s inspire key backers. Let’s think big, all right. But please, let’s not just think. “We have to make choices and commitments and partnerships and make things happen now,” Martin said.
Martin left the relative predictability of day to day leadership of the smash hit Parklands of Floyds Fork, in Louisville. He accepted this steep challenge well aware that the River Heritage Conservancy currently owns neither a broad mandate nor so much as a bit of shoreline.
What if Kent Lanum, president and CEO of the Paul Ogle Foundation, had not been invited to join the board of the Greenway Commission? Ponder that because that is when Lanum got to thinking long and hard about the riverfront. He turned down the Commission but ultimately got turned on to set up the Conservancy.
Enamored by the Parklands, Lanum got a sense of Martin’s varied skills and his indefatigable determination. Also, Lanum and some other local leaders figured state Regional Cities aid could be available for the type of projects Martin now encourages.
Our area chose initially not to ask to be a Regional Cities beneficiary, however. Lanum talks of going into a sort of mourning about that. But he resumed the push, obviously. Funds from the Ogle Foundation fuel the Conservancy’s humble beginnings. A Conservancy board meets, chaired by Lanum. “Right now we’re just dreaming,” Lanum said.
“When push comes to shove, it will be interesting.”
Lanum could not be happier to have Martin on his side. “He’s a natural,” Lanum said. “He can get you drinking the Kool Aid pretty quickly.”
A 44 year old Virginia native, Martin sells parks as necessary, not merely nice. They define areas,
distinguish them. “Parks matter and parks that serve everyone matter even more,” Martin told me.
He’s lived in places, such as Idaho, where being outdoors is as routine as being hungry. He’s observed cities, such as Portland, Oregon, that uplifted their images when they put a priority on parkland. Martin points to iconic parks, such as New York’s Central Park, as ones not only to be envied but to be emulated.
As public funds tighten, conservancies step up in New York and all over. Makes perfect sense, according to Martin. How much other charity is available all day, every day, to one and to all. Think of fond memories made in parks, Martin urges.
Imagine economic benefits, as well. Consider possibilities galore. “We’re a 20 minute drive for one million people,” Martin said. “That’s rare. That opportunity is really unique.”
He said yes to Lanum to help steer history. “I wake up every day thinking about our park,” Martin said. “I need that focus to execute these projects.”
Yes, Martin must advocate and, at that, he has begun. Beyond that, there is neither yet a timeline nor a specific hoped for look and feel. Martin acknowledges pressure to be met with hard work. “Our job is to make sure people have awesome experiences,
” he said.