From the outset, frequent flooding was a major concern for the site. A 1920 engineering study had recommended a levee that would bisect the site and consume the available funds, but Olmsted, Jr., was determined to first develop the uninterrupted “pleasant rural and sylvan scenery” of a successful country park, while studying alternative locations for a levee—preferably at the river’s edge or along inland railroad tracks.
The F. M. Kirby Park board agreed to defer the levee, allowing Olmsted Brothers to create a great undulating meadow offering long vistas, surrounded by lush trees, including a WWI memorial grove. The meadow was designed to retain, then disperse, stormwater with a runoff drain. A bandstand, picnic grove, and playgrounds were tucked into the woodlands while paved drives and pedestrian and bridle paths ringed the meadow. Opportunities for active recreation were located along the northern edge, closest to Market Street transportation. Intended regrading and planting of the steep riverbanks were interrupted by a spring flood in 1924, just before the official park opening, and again in 1936 with more devastating damage. When the levee was finally built, it separated and protected the inner park, now reduced to fifty-two acres, from its riverside acreage.
Kirby Park remains a popular destination. The expansive meadow is now interrupted by four ball fields, a parking lot, tennis courts, a stadium, and several other sports facilities, while a large irregular pond occupies the southeast corner.