Perhaps you were one of the 2,077 people to fill out the Inclusive Park Survey or one of the 300 people to share with us what makes you feel welcome or unwelcome in public spaces at one of our Inclusion Gatherings. Well, we heard you! And we shared your input with our Town Branch Park Partners. The Partners extensively reviewed your ideas and concerns and came up with 12 recommendations and over 70 strategies to make the future Town Branch Park a place for everyone in our community to enjoy! These recommendations and the community engagement process leading up to them are detailed in the Town Branch Park Inclusion Plan.
Town Branch Park is envisioned as the community’s living room - a beautiful and dynamic space for people of all ages, backgrounds and experiences to interact in a comfortable and safe environment. With that intention, our Board of Directors adopted the Town Branch Park Inclusion Plan as a guiding document for the Park.
What is the Town Branch Park Inclusion Plan?
The Town Branch Park Inclusion Plan is the culmination of a year’s worth of meetings to review community input, learn best practices, and establish meaningful recommendations. It ensures that inclusion will be embedded in everything we do – from start to finish - so all will feel welcome and a sense of belonging.
The recommendations in the plan are organized into three key areas – design, programming and operations. They cover issues ranging from signage to accessibility to safety to special events. Staff, consultants, and leadership of the park will use these recommendations as we continue into the next phase of park development.
We are grateful to the Town Branch Partners for their expertise and effort developing the plan. We also want to thank the more than 2,000 community members who took the time to share their thoughts, hopes and dreams for our community and this transformational park project.
Our work is just beginning, and we look forward to continuing to update you and seek your input as we create this world-class community gathering space together!
Respecting Voices in the Community
“When Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council started working with Town Branch, we believed we had one opportunity — one PowerPoint — to advocate for what teenagers want in parks. But we quickly realized that Town Branch Park staff weren’t looking for superficial engagement, the type that checks a box on a grant or proposal. When they graciously invited us to join the Town Branch Partners and the selection committee for the NEA InterAct grant, I understood that they recognize the power of ongoing commitment to Lexington’s youth. Town Branch will be successful because they continuously give voices to those who are often overlooked — including teenagers but extending to every walk of life in Lexington — and because they genuinely value the feedback they receive.”
- Anna Baskin, Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council member and Town Branch Park Partner
Old National Bank Foundation to Support Inclusion Plan Implementation
Having a plan doesn’t ensure implementation. Not having enough funding is the number one reason park agencies are not more inclusive to all members of the community (National Recreation and Park Association Park Inclusion Report 2017). We are working to ensure the plan is implemented by actively seeking funding to support it. We are thrilled to announce Old National Bank Foundation has awarded a grant to Town Branch Park specifically to support the implementation of the Inclusion Plan and we are thankful for their visionary gift.
Town Branch Park Awarded 501(c)(3) Status
We are excited to announce the final step in our transition to becoming a separate, standalone organization. Town Branch Park has been awarded 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service. It is an important next step for Town Branch Park and is further proof of the successful incubation of the organization. It is a testament to the diligent work and good stewardship of our board, staff, and volunteers. Thank you for helping us continue the momentum of creating a world-class park in the heart of downtown Lexington!