Dear Friends, 4.28.09
With horses racing and spring in the air, we are delighted to report that trail construction is at the post and ready to run. We would like to share with you the project milestones reached over the last quarter:
• The first 1.8 miles of trail will be complete this spring, connecting Masterson Station Park with Alexandria Drive. This first section has been built with $750,000 raised from two Transportation Enhancement grants and state road funds. Land donations from Dennis Anderson totaled over $800,000. Stay tuned for a dedication event this summer.
• A 5-mile design and feasibility study underway will lay out the alignment of the next section of the trail running from Alexandria Drive to the Newtown Pike Extension (NPE) at the rear of Rupp Arena. LFUCG is funding this work.
• A one-mile McConnell Springs Nature Park trail running to Town Branch Creek at New Circle Road is funded and ready for design. This will be constructed with a $650,000 Transportation Enhancement grant awarded in 2007. LFUCG has submitted grants to fund a pedestrian crossing on Old Frankfort Pike for this segment.
• Town Branch Trail, Inc. and the Lexington Distillery District have built a strategic partnership on a 25-acre $85 million TIF project along Manchester Street. When this project is realized, TIF financing will restore a large section of the Town Branch Creek and build a section of the trail. This collaborative investment will make Town Branch Trail a vital urban segment of the state’s Bourbon Trail.
• Town Branch Art Bridge! Working with state and city engineers and other stakeholders, TBT collaborated on a design for a unique bridge for Newtown Pike Extension (NPE) over Town Branch Creek, where the trail will connect with Newtown Pike, Downtown, and the Distillery District. It is designed to become a city landmark that can accommodate art installations in the future. Many thanks to the NPE project team.
• Town Branch Trail, Inc. and R J Corman Railroad have met repeatedly over the last year to discuss the following issues:
-15-mile rail-with-trail from Town Branch to Versailles (on the Mayor’s stimulus wish list and currently in feasibility study)
-Possible railroad passenger service from behind Rupp Arena to Midway and Frankfort. Although this is only a long-term goal at this point, can you imagine how great it would be to bike to Midway or Frankfort for lunch or dinner and ride a vintage train back?
-Preliminary trail design to study a below-grade crossing of the existing rail line in order to avoid any impact on railway service.
• NEW•TOWN•BRANCH: We continue to advocate for a dramatic redesign of the rear of Rupp Arena as Downtown Lexington’s new front door and a critical link to connect Newtown Pike Extension, Town Branch Trail, potential passenger rail service, and the Distillery District with the Lexington Center and Downtown.
• Networking and friend-raising Downtown: We are continually networking with organizations like Commerce Lexington, Downtown Lexington Corporation, Downtown Development Authority, Fayette Alliance, the Legacy Center and Blue Grass Community Foundation, among many others. Downtown is where TBT takes root and where a culturally and economically vibrant Lexington will become competitive on a national level. Highlights: working with the Legacy Projects (Trail and Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden), supporting 2-way street conversions and streetscape design.
• One Quarter for Creeks! We have closely followed the EPA consent decree process and believe Lexington has opportunity hidden inside of an EPA lawsuit. Rather than seeing it as a punishment to be minimally addressed, we see it as a 50-year opportunity to set our environmental goals for our children and grandchildren. The sanitary and storm fees are designed to satisfy EPA minimum requirements. Little or no creek restoration is included in the scope of work even though our creeks are our greatest unrealized assets! No one will move to Lexington to look at our sewers, but they will move here if we have beautiful creeks with trails! Our motto of “one quarter for creeks” (25% for creeks) is meant to reframe the debate and scope of work as a vision for Lexington’s future.
• The Environmental Education Project is nearing completion! A three-part DVD and KERA curriculum to teach local middle-school students about our local watershed. Look for news in the Fall.
• Getting the word out! To spare your recycle bins we have cut back on newsletters, preferring to use the internet and our local papers to better connect with the greater community in a clear and cost effective way. We have contributed multiple editorials to the Herald-Leader, Business Lexington, and Ace Magazine. We keep adding material to our website www.townbranch.org and we are now a group on www.facebook.com, which is proving to be a brilliant networking and information-sharing system. Please log on, join up, and stay connected!
With sincere thanks for your continued support,
Van Meter Pettit, AIA