Hayfield-Dundee Pocket Park Creating a Plan for Vacant FEMA Lots

Eight properties along Sutherland Drive and Calder Court experienced flooding so severe they qualified and were accepted by the FEMA buyout program. These properties are now owned by Louisville's Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) but present a unique opportunity for the community. This website allows stakeholders and community members to follow, participate and stay engaged in the site planning process.

While beyond the scope of this effort, this small project could help set a strategic precedent and engagement model for MSD as flooding continues to become an issue throughout Louisville, and the number of FEMA buyout parcels continues to grow. We believe this project will set the stage for a rewarding community process and result in a design that is owned and championed by the neighborhood.

We want your input! Text 502.236.5562

Project Site

The site is approximately 2 acres of previously residential properties. Comprised of 8 lots, all of which had houses and supporting infrastructure, the site has a history of flooding impact.

Through the FEMA buyout program these lots were purchased by Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District and the structures on the properties have been demolished.

A History of Flooding

Neighborhood photos from 2015 flooding event

Share your photos! Do you have pictures from flooding or pictures that capture how you use the space now?

Text your photos to: 502.236.5562


Flooding on Site

In 2006, 2009, 2013, 2015, and 2018 there were major flash flooding events that affected this site. Located near Beargrass Creek, these lots fall in the 100-year floodplain.

FEMA Buyout

Across the nation, more and more flood-inundated communities are choosing property acquisition as a hazard mitigation option. Besides being a permanent solution to a hazard-related problem, property acquisition achieves many other objectives, such as protecting critical habitat, providing opportunities for recreation, providing flood storage, or enhancing other natural or cultural resources.

Since the devastating floods of 1993, Hazard Mitigation Officers from flood-inundated States and FEMA Regions have developed guidelines to assist communities through the property acquisition process. Hundreds of acquisition projects have tested the effectiveness of those guidelines.

What can we do with this site, per FEMA?

  • Wetland restoration
  • Greenway
  • Recreational area for athletic fields, hunting and fishing areas, trails, etc.
  • Community farm or garden
  • Wildlife refuge
  • Bird sanctuary
  • Environmental and ecological education center

What do you want the space to become?

Text your ideas to: 502.236.5562

Existing Conditions

The existing conditions map shows a large floodplain that covers a lot of the neighborhood. Highlighted are the 8 parcels that qualified and were bought out by the FEMA buyout program. The lots are divided by Sutherland Drive and are near but not adjacent to Beargrass Creek. (Click to zoom in)

Existing Site

The original homes, the surrounding pavement and other accessory structures (sheds, pool, etc.) have all been cleared from the lots leaving large open spaces. Throughout the site there are existing trees and infrastructure to be taken into consideration for the concept designs. In addition to the lots themselves, Sutherland Drive runs through the center of the entire site.

Sutherland Drive runs through the center of the parcels parcels and the road sits at a lower elevation than the properties. This road experiences the highest amount of flooding.
Due to the nature of the residential lots, the parcels have many overhead utility lines through and bordering the lots.
Mature vegetation existing throughout the site. The location of these trees will be documented and their large canopy preserved.
As the site resides between other residential homes, there is an abundance of privacy fences that serves as edges to the site.
After the excavation of the buildings, there are now mounds of land that reside throughout the site in place of the previous structures.

How do you think the lots could be maintained long term?

Text your ideas to: 502.236.5562

Case Studies: Community Owned Spaces around Louisville

Hal Warheim Park

In 1974, Hal Warheim purchased an undeveloped remnant of land bounded by residential lots fronting on Overlook Terrace, Yale Drive and Boulevard Napoleon in Louisville, Kentucky. “The Woods,” as it was called by neighborhood residents, was overgrown and unkempt, but Hal saw its potential – as a redeemed green space, and a neighborhood park that could be enjoyed by the entire community. The dream became a reality in 2004, and has been a popular gathering spot since.

Hal Warheim Park consists of nearly an acre of public green space featuring a play center, swings, a pavilion, a bridge with dry wash rocks underneath, benches, a drinking fountain, gardens, a little library, a meditation space and wonderfully carved art created from its fallen trees.

While Louisville Metro Parks Department holds the title to Hal Warheim Park, responsibility for the supervision and maintenance of the park rests solely with the Warheim Park Association and funding comes entirely from donations and fundraising. The park’s maintenance, preservation, and improvements are managed by the Warheim Park Association Board of Directors, an all-volunteer group of individuals comprised of residents in the immediate neighborhood. Warheim Park Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and funds reside at the Community Foundation of Louisville.

dyeScape Flower Garden

The Metro Louisville launched “Lots of Possibility,” a competition asking engaged citizens with an eye for redevelopment to re-imagine vacant lots around the city. Shortly after the end of the competition, a project called dyeScape was announced as one of the winners in the Permanent Use category, for which they received ownership of a vacant lot and $15,000 to fund their project.

Staying true to the competition, the project collaborators at dyeScape—Louis Johnson and sisters Colleen and Maggie Clines—have demonstrated the possibilities that this vacant lot had to offer. What was once a grassy square bounded between Interstate 64, Portland Avenue, and 17th Street is now a vibrant flower garden on an otherwise unassuming block.

“At every scale, we’ve been focused on getting these raised beds built and getting everything planted for the season,” Colleen said. “The point we’re at today is to kick off the demonstration gardens and to share the project with the community.”

Beechwood Park

A new pocket park in the Highlands of Louisville, Ky.

In 2015, a group of neighbors launched a grassroots effort to transform this undeveloped 1-acre property into a neighborhood “pocket park” featuring a diverse array of programming and gathering spaces that could be enjoyed by the community. The nonprofit organization, Friends of Beechwood Park, solicited Gresham Smith to take their vision to the next level.

Based on both client and community feedback a more refined conceptual plan was prepared. The design concept reimagines the vacant space in three meaningful and creative areas that respond to the natural and historical context of the neighborhood: Nature Play—an open children’s area featuring tree swings and natural playground equipment, including rocks and finished tree stumps for climbing; The Family Room—a gathering place modeled after the footprint of a Victorian home; and The Side Yard—a serene, garden-like setting ideal for reading and contemplation.

With the help of the Gresham Smith team, a series of communication strategies were developed to assist Friends of Beechwood Park in refining their vision, creating a buzz within the community, leveraging private donations and grant funding, and taking the project from concept through to implementation.

By applying creative design techniques and innovative communication tools in a cost-effective manner, Gresham Smith helped Friends of Beechwood Park better define their vision, sell the concept, and then raise the funding to begin implementation. The community is now set to enjoy a diverse new gathering space that celebrates the site’s past Victorian history while allowing it the flexibility to be a 21st-century park space.

We want your input!

Text 502.236.5562

Design Team

Gresham Smith

Gresham Smith is a team of diligent designers, creative problem-solvers, insightful planners and seasoned collaborators who work closely with clients to improve the cities and towns we call home. Our employees are diverse in experience, yet we all have one thing in common: genuine care for each other, our partners and the outcome of our work. From roadways and pathways that connect people and places, to hospitals that promote well-being and recovery, to corporate campuses that encourage productivity and teamwork, we have the pleasure of designing communities’ most vital institutions and infrastructure.

Project Manager

Erin Hathaway



Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District

Provide quality wastewater, stormwater and flood protection services to protect public health and safety through sustainable solutions, fiscal stewardship and strategic partnerships

Flood Protection

MSD maintains Louisville Metro's Ohio River Flood Protection System—keeping the river at bay and out of the city.

The system protects more than 200,000 people, 87,000 homes and $24 billion in property throughout 110 square miles of Louisville Metro. It includes 29 miles of floodwall and earthen levee, 16 flood pumping stations, nearly 150 floodgates and 80 floodwall closures.

Where creeks and storm drains pass through the floodwall, gates can be closed to keep the river from flowing up the streams, and large pumps at the flood pumping stations are used to lift the water from the creeks into the river. Additional gates and pumping stations keep the river from backing up through storm drains, and pump the stormwater into the river.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the system after the city's two highest floods of record in 1937 and 1945. MSD has been responsible for the Flood Protection System since 1987.