1. What is the Town Branch Park?
A committed group of civic leaders and philanthropists joined together with a vision to bring the beauty of our iconic countryside to the heart of the city by creating a new world-class park in downtown Lexington.
Town Branch Park, a Kentucky non-stock, nonprofit organization, is dedicated to supporting the design, planning, construction, operations and maintenance of the new park. Specifically, the organization’s primary undertaking will be to transform a nine (9) acre asphalt parking lot into a high quality urban park and open space, with related facilities and amenities, for the use and enjoyment by residents and visitors of Lexington for recreational and educational purposes.
Town Branch Park was originally incubated under the charitable umbrella of Blue Grass Community Foundation as a component fund, Town Branch Fund. The support of the BGCF staff and Board was invaluable during the initial launch of the project.
2. Is Town Branch Park a public or private project?
Town Branch Park is a privately funded initiative focused on inclusion and meaningful public involvement. It is overseen by a Board of Director’s and run by a professional staff. The Board, all of whom have generously contributed financial gifts and time to the project have referred to this as “the people’s park” and a public space the will become “downtown’s living room”. To ensure this happens, the Board unanimously appointed the Town Branch Park Partners, a diverse and highly skilled group of Lexingtonians, to provide guidance on the design, programming and operations of the Park and to help facilitate thoughtful community engagement throughout the process. Town Branch Park will be a public space open to all.
3. What is the role of the Town Branch Park Partners?
To ensure that the future Town Branch Park is a welcoming, beautiful place for all to enjoy, the Board formed Town Branch Park Partners, a diverse group of 29 community leaders reflective of the larger community with complementary professional and lived experience. They are local leaders working with universities, neighborhood groups, transit, the senior center, urban design, safety and sustainability, among others. This group is tasked with using their collective and lived experience to ensure that the park is welcoming, safe and accessible to all.
The Partners have created a Park Inclusion Report that outlines 12 specific recommendations and 72 strategies to ensure the design, programming, and operations of the park exemplify equity, fairness, and inclusion. The recommendations were created using extensive community feedback - nearly 2500 community members participated in surveys and gatherings to share what would help them feel welcome in the park.
4. Where is the money coming from?
Town Branch Park will be funded largely through private donations. An extensive fundraising feasibility study showed Lexington has the affinity and capacity to build Town Branch Park and set a fundraising target of $31 million. To date, the Fund has secured over $9 million in pledged funding from local donors toward the $31 million goal. Private donations will complement the city's public investment of the land.
The Town Branch Trail, downtown section, is fully funded from a diverse set of sources including:
- 2016 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant
- Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Grant
- Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) Grant
- Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA) Water and Sewer Loans
This is in addition to local match funds by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG), the Transit Authority of Lexington (Lextran), and private funding that generated the initial concept design competition and feasibility study.
5. What are you going to do about parking?
There will be over 500 parking spaces adjacent to the park through a variety of garages and on-street parking spots, including a new parking garage being built as part of the Lexington Convention Center renovation, the High Street Parking Lot, and approximately 90 spots at park entrances. The Town Branch Trail, with a trailhead in the park, will also connect people to on-street and garage parking on Vine Street.
6. Are you digging up the Creek?
Although the Town Branch Commons Master Plan calls for certain areas where water will be visible throughout the corridor, many of these will be in areas where Town Branch already exists in the open, such as behind Rupp Arena in Manchester Street parking lot (future site of the Park) or man-made water features being used to allude to the water still buried below. These man-made water features will be designed to be interactive.
7. Are there water features in Town Branch Park?
Yes, Town Branch stream, which currently daylights in the Manchester Street Parking Lot (future site of the park), will be cleaned, exposed, and expanded through the new park. In addition, there will be interactive water features throughout the park with clean, potable water that is safe for play.
8. What is Town Branch Commons vs. Town Branch Park vs. Town Branch Trail?
The Park is one of two key components of Town Branch Commons. Serving as the trailhead, Town Branch Park provides a crucial link between the Legacy and the Town Branch trail system, connecting the urban core to the iconic countryside.
The second component of the Commons is the downtown portion of the Town Branch Trail, the new 3.2 mile section of the Trail that will connect at Town Branch Park to 22 miles of protected bike and pedestrian paths. The trail expansion into downtown Lexington is fully funded through $40 million in federal, state and city grants. The city is leading that project and construction is underway.
9. When will the project be built?
The land for Town Branch Park will serve as the staging area for the Lexington Convention Center renovation and expansion, so that project must be completed before park construction can begin. In the meantime, the board and staff of Town Branch Park will be working on planning, designing, and engineering.
Construction is currently underway for the fully funded Town Branch Trail and should be completed by 2021.
10. What kind of environmental impact will this have?
By peeling away layers of concrete and blacktop, Town Branch Park will expose and restore the stream bed of Town Branch and a piece of our history. Visitors will be able to view and appreciate a more ecologically productive waterway with thriving species of plants, insects, birds, and fish.
Lexington's EPA Consent Decree with corresponding upgrades to the sewer system are already working to clean Town Branch. Once the consent decree is complete, sewage overflows into the stream will be dramatically reduced. Town Branch Park is a crucial piece of visualizing this transformation. While most of the consent decree work is about upsizing sewer pipes and creating storage tanks, the Park will be the first piece of the water quality transformation that is visible as a day-lit and healthy stream channel.
The abundance of flat, dark surfaces made up of asphalt and concrete in downtown Lexington creates what is known as the urban heat island effect. A mature tree canopy in Town Branch Park will play a critical role in reducing the air temperature near the Park by five to ten degrees, making the urban area more inhabitable for humans and wildlife. Park trees and vegetation can also help reduce air pollution by directly removing pollutants.
The overarching Town Branch Commons project will also incorporate green infrastructure and stormwater education throughout downtown. Through the addition of bioswales, stormwater-capturing green streets, permeable paving, and educational signage along the downtown corridor, Lexington can improve water quality and quality of life from the inside out.
11. What is karst?
Karst topography is a naturally occurring geologic feature here in the Bluegrass Region made up of a system of limestone that has been eroded down to the bedrock by water. Common features of the Karst geology are sinkholes, boils, springs, and caves.