Pursue a regional park system.
Regional parks can provide multiple community-wide benefits relating to public health, recreation and environmental protection. They serve the city as a whole, in comparison to smaller parks, which meet local needs. Such parks are typically fairly large in terms of acreage, and often include significant environmental features such as waterbodies, floodplains, forests or sensitive natural habitats.
According to Your Parks, Our Future, Regional Parks and Nature Parks tend to be located regionally, while serving citywide needs. The LFUCG Division of Parks and Recreation currently operates five (5) Regional Parks: Coldstream, Jacobson, Masterson Station, Shillito, and Veterans. Although these parks are well distributed, gaps exist in the northeastern and western portions of Lexington. The city also has three Nature Parks (four counting The Arboretum), which are also distributed throughout the county, but none are located in the north or west. Raven Run and McConnell Springs experience heavy use, which could lead to negative impact on the character of the sites and user experiences. More natural areas and more nature parks like Raven Run in other parts of the county are requested among the Parks Master Plan citizen surveys.
Your Parks, Our Future also recommends proposed regional and nature parks, and identifies four new or expanded parks in Lexington that would help to meet the needs of the growing population of the city. These improvements represent the development of one existing park, one private park, and two long-term acquisition areas. Although the need for the development of the new parks is long-term, the acquisition of the land of these potential parks should be considered before the necessary land is no longer available or becomes cost-prohibitive. Lexington should investigate opportunities for the acquisition of land for a future Regional Park in the northeast portion of Fayette County to meet the needs of a growing and underserved area. The city should similarly explore potential acquisition of land for a new Nature Park (or preserve) to be located to the west of the Urban Service Boundary to meet expanding regional demand and to prevent overuse of existing natural areas.
Expansion of Cardinal Run to a Regional Park would address the gap in service for Regional Parks in the western portion of Lexington. The City of Lexington and the Division of Parks and Recreation also continue on the efforts for proposed Town Branch Park, with public and private partnership. This park would provide a much-needed regional recreational attraction in downtown Lexington.
Other parks could be integrated into the expanding system of public greenways and trails scattered throughout the county, and located to complement those private rural lands that are being preserved through the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program. While a thorough study and analysis of potentially available priority land will ultimately be needed, certain areas that include prominent creek watersheds immediately come to mind as possibly offering excellent opportunities, such as Boone Creek, North and South Elkhorn Creeks and Town Branch Creek.
Funding for a regional park system will be a major challenge, but that alone should not serve as a defining deterrent. Many determined communities across the country have responded to funding needs in creative and progressive ways. Through a combination of local government investment, support from the development review and approval process, and citizen/corporate contributions via establishment of private foundations, an outstanding array of parks at a regional scale can be created.
- Implement the recommendations from the Your Parks, Our Future Parks Master Plan.