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Students help with trail idea


[Photo]
CALEB BENTON | KERNEL STAFF
The Town Branch of Elkhorn Creek still retains much of its beauty.

Greenways: Boulder, Colo., and New York City have theirs; why can’t Lexington?

Mark Vanderhoff
EDITOR IN CHIEF

Students of UK’s landscape architecture program Friday joined Lexington Vice Mayor Isabel Yates and members of Friends of the Parks to unveil a proposal for a trail along Elkhorn Creek.

The Town Branch Greenway would begin in downtown Lexington and end at McConnell Springs.

“Trails are in – they are the fashionable thing to do,” Yates told about 80 people gathered at McConnell Springs for the presentation.

The term “greenway” is used to describe an area of land connecting cultural or historic sites, parks and natural areas with each other and with communities. They serve as recreational areas, but are also important for conservation and the protection of land and water quality.

The Town Branch Greenway would provide space for biking, running, walking, roller-blading and other activities as well as protection of the Town Branch of the Elkhorn Creek, one of the most polluted streams in the state and a contributor to Lexington’s source of drinking water, the Kentucky River.

Several UK landscape architecture students presented their findings from a six-week project to inventory the proposed area and analyze its possible uses.

They waded through water that Randy Hoffacker, a landscape architecture senior, said “you absolutely don’t want to touch.”

“We saw green and orange ooze,” near the closed county landfill, he said.

The leaking landfill, as well as fecal coliform bacteria and hazardous storm runoff, have made the stream unsafe. Where it emerges from underground below Rupp Arena, the Town Branch flows through Lexington’s oldest industrial area, crisscrossed by railroads and streets and bordered by private and sometimes seemingly abandoned properties.

“There have been oil refineries and hog farms along this stream,” Hoffacker said. “But it used to be so clean, there was a distillery that drew water from it.”

The Town Branch has been neglected, but students also saw in it a stream that winds past the stone walls and historical homes of Lexington’s settlers and ends up in the rolling horse pastures of the Bluegrass, with many accessible points.

“We could be reusing areas the that have been overlooked,” said Van Meter Pettit, a member of Friends of the Parks who has been very active in the greenway project.

The project faces some major hurdles, beginning with funding and the amount of privately-owned land along the stream. It could take years to acquire the land, Pettit said.

Friends of the Parks has begun a fundraising drive to raise money to acquire the land and construct the trail.

The 23 students who participated in the project were members of a fourth-year landscape architecture design studio, taught by assistant professor Krista Schneider. The department did a project on the new Lexington-Fayette County courthouse design alternatives last semester.

The 23 students who participated in the project were members of a fourth-year landscape architecture design studio, taught by assistant professor Krista Schneider. The department did a project on the new Lexington-Fayette County courthouse design alternatives last semester.

Town Branch Greenway: UK Landscape Architecture

Town Branch Greenway: Constructing the Vision….Connecting the Dots

The following report summarizes a joint proposal for the future design and development of the Town Branch Greenway in Lexington, Kentucky. Its content includes an analysis of existing conditions, opportunities and constraints identified, issues and concerns raised in public discussions, as well as design proposals and land-use recommendations. This study was a planned collaborative effort between the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Kentucky and Friends of the Parks of Fayette County, Inc (the latter acted as the lead organization). Much information, support, and assistance for this project was provided by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. Funding for the charrette was awarded to the Friends of the Parks by the Kodak American Greenways Program. Several design professionals from the local community also volunteered their time and effort during the two-day charrette that took place in mid-February

Click this link to visit the UK Landscape Architecture’s Town Branch Greenway Website