Yesterday the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy (SFPC) announced the completion of an historic $70 million campaign for major enhancements to Shelby Farms Park. The campaign was launched in 2008 with a $20 million grant from Hyde Family Foundations, with a goal to raise the funds needed to implement Phase One of SFPC’s Master Plan for the Park.
“We are proud to announce that we’ve crossed the finish line on our capital campaign, and we’re grateful to all the corporate, foundation, private and public partners who stepped up to help unlock the incredible potential of Shelby Farms Park,” said Barbara Hyde, SFPC board member and President of Hyde Family Foundations.
In addition to an early $5 million contribution, FedEx issued an additional $1 million challenge grant to help close the campaign.
“Shelby Farms Park is one of America’s premier urban parks and an integral part of this community,” said Mitch Jackson, SFPC board member and Vice President of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability, FedEx Corporation. “Many FedEx team members are patrons of Shelby Farms Park, and we are proud to support efforts that will enhance the park and deliver a brighter future.”
In January 2015, SFPC opened capital campaign fundraising to the public, setting a goal to raise $100,000 in one month to unlock a $1 million challenge from FedEx. More than 300 gifts ranging from $4 to $10,000 came in, ultimately totaling more than $140,000 and unlocking the $1 million challenge grant contribution.
“We are overwhelmed by the community’s support for Shelby Farms Park Conservancy and our Heart of the Park project,” said Laura W. Morris, SFPC executive director. “As we step across the finish line of this historic capital campaign and move forward toward the realization of the community’s dream for Shelby Farms Park, we are strengthened and inspired by the generosity of our donors.”
The $70 million total includes projects already benefitting the community like the Shelby Farms Greenline, Woodland Discovery Playground, Wolf River Pedestrian Bridge, gateway signage and major tree plantings. In addition, the $52 million Heart of the Park project is underway, with a plan to open all new facilities and amenities by fall of 2016.
“The best urban parks are strategically developed and cared for to ensure both ecological and financial sustainability,” said Tom Grimes, SFPC Board Chair. “The public charged us to heal and restore damaged ecosystems, to create more opportunities to play and recreate together, to provide amenities for education, celebration and gathering, and to make sure the Park is protected and cared for. We are committed to creating, protecting and preserving this great Park. Heart of the Park will be completed on time and on budget thanks to the generosity of the community.”
The Heart of the Park is a visionary reimagining of Patriot Lake – a well-loved, but ecologically dysfunctional lake in the center of the Park. The Heart of the Park will become a vibrant and diverse community hub, an environmental teaching tool, an important part of the business plan to sustain the Park, a gathering place for health and recreation, relaxation and big water adventure. It will be an exemplar for innovative urban landscape design, environmentally responsive architecture, and world class programming for health, happiness and inclusion for the Mid-South.
A new Visitor Center will include an education space, a cafe, a gift shop and a big front porch where visitors can watch sailboats and kayaks on the lake. A new boat rental kiosk will allow visitors to rent canoes, kayaks and paddle boats. A signature restaurant and event center on the east end of the Heart of the Park will offer a dramatic view of the expanded lake. A new Wetland Walk and water playground will provide new opportunities for education and fun for children. New meadows and grasslands, more than 4 miles of new trails and thousands of new trees are restoring biodiversity and ecological health to the Heart of the Park. You can see more information, including an animated video below: