Plan would create 200 miles of multi-use trails in Scott County

July 15, 2014

legacyGabe Schmuck, 9, left, Nate Schmuck, 5, and their father, Paul Schmuck, rode on the Legacy Trail in Lexington in 2012. Photo by Mark Ashley.

GEORGETOWN — The popular Legacy Trail out of Lexington now stops just short of the Scott County line at the Kentucky Horse Park. But what is now the end of the trail could someday be just the beginning.

Scott County leaders have worked for three years with the regional visioning group Bluegrass Tomorrow and the National Park Service to develop an ambitious plan for Kentucky’s most extensive trails network. Plans call for 200 miles of biking, hiking, horseback riding and waterway trails throughout Scott County.

“Our vision is that this is going to eventually branch out and include the whole region,” said John Simpson, director of Georgetown/Scott County Tourism.

The Bluegrass Bike Hike Horseback Trails Alliance unveiled a draft of the proposed master plan Monday at the monthly meeting of the Georgetown/Scott County Chamber of Commerce.

Alliance leaders hope to finish the plan by the end of the year and begin negotiating property easements, designing trails, raising private money and applying for federal transportation grants.

Some trails would be shared, with bike/pedestrian and horse paths side-by-side, but most would be separate. The plan was developed with help from interested residents during a June 2013 design workshop, and the alliance is eager for more public participation.

At this point, there are no cost estimates, but such a trails network would run well into the millions of dollars. Still, many officials think it would be a great investment.

“This has the potential to have a tremendous impact, economically and socially, on the community,” said Russell Clark, the alliance’s National Park Service representative.

Clark and Rob Rumpke, president of Bluegrass Tomorrow, cited the economic impact that trail systems have had on Damascus, Va., a once-depressed logging town where hikers and mountain bikers now flock to the Appalachian and Virginia Creeper trails; Loveland, Ohio; and Indiana’s Brown County.

The trails alliance has more than a dozen partners, including the cities of Georgetown, Sadieville and Lexington; Scott County Fiscal Court; the state tourism department; the Horse Park; the Kentucky Horse Council; Georgetown College; the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture; the Bluegrass Area Development District; St. Joseph Health System/Kentucky One; and several horseback-riding and cycling groups.

Rumpke said horse trails should be especially popular, given the number of local horse enthusiasts and the tourists who come to Central Kentucky to see horse farms and events.

“We’re the horse capital of the world; why are there so few horseback-riding facilities?” he asked. “This is an opportunity to address that.”

The first step in the plan is to extend the Legacy Trail 6.6 miles from the horse park to Georgetown. Christie Robinson chairs a steering committee that commissioned an engineering feasibility study, which was recently completed. The study estimates the total cost at about $8.3 million, including trailheads, bathrooms and other amenities. It could be built in four phases as money became available.

Georgetown recently awarded the Legacy Trail committee $25,000 as a match to a $100,000 federal grant that it will apply for this fall, Robinson said. That would move the design process forward.

Claude Christensen, mayor of Sadieville, said he sees the trail system as an opportunity to revitalize his town of 303 people at the northern tip of Scott County. Sadieville is applying for “trail town” status with state tourism officials. But it needs trails.

“It’s huge for Sadieville,” Christensen said. “It makes us a destination.”

Simpson, the tourism official, said many Scott County business and government leaders support trails development because they have seen the economic benefit that road cycling enthusiasts have had in the area.

The Bluegrass Cycling Club’s annual Horsey Hundred ride each Memorial Day weekend is based at Georgetown College. This year, more than 2,000 cyclists came from all over North America to ride Central Kentucky’s scenic back roads on marked routes ranging from 25 to 104 miles.

Georgetown hosted a downtown party for the cyclists, who filled Georgetown College’s residence halls and more than half of the 1,100 local motel rooms. A big group from Ontario, Canada, came for an entire week of cycling before the event.

An extensive trail network, along with Central Kentucky’s world-class cycling roads, could make Georgetown a major recreation destination, Simpson said.

“We’re at the starting point of something that could be phenomenal,” he said. “It could bring thousands of tourists to our community and enhance our own quality of life.”


Update on plans for finishing Lexington trails, adding bike lanes

March 22, 2014

Spring is finally here, which means better weather for bicycling. It also means more opportunities for my fellow cyclists to ask when the Legacy and Town Branch trails will be finished, and when there will be more trails and bike lanes.

Lexington has made progress in the past five years toward building a transportation system for more than motor vehicles, but it still has a long way to go.

Keith Lovan gets those questions more often than I do. And because he is the city engineer who oversees trail and bicycle/pedestrian projects, he actually has some answers. So I called him last week for an update.

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The first section of the Legacy Trail, shown here going through Coldstream Park, opened in September 2010. Photo by Tom Eblen

The main 7.5-mile section of the Legacy Trail, between Loudon Avenue and the Kentucky Horse Park, opened in September 2010. It came together quickly thanks to good public-private partnerships, federal “economic stimulus” money and the urgency of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games the next month.

Since then, officials have been working through logistics and funding to bring the trail into town and east to the corner of Midland Avenue and Third Street, where the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden will be built this summer. “It’s all coming together,” Lovan said.

He plans to ask the Urban County Council in April to approve a land swap with R.J. Corman Railroad Group that will allow Legacy Trail construction to continue along a former rail line from near Loudon Avenue to Fifth Street near Jefferson Street.

If approved, work could begin in June and finished this summer, he said. Lovan also is working with the Hope Center on right-of-way near Loudon. That also could happen this summer.

The next step will be taking the trail east along Fourth Street’s existing right-of-way. Once paperwork is finished, design work can begin on that section, based on input from a 30-member citizens advisory group.

For that section, Lovan favors a two-way bike path separated from Fourth Street traffic by short posts or a similar barrier. If all goes well, that work could all be finished by the end of this year, he said.

Meanwhile, a Scott County group is working to extend the Legacy Trail north to Georgetown. That project was started by sports agent Dick Robinson before he died suddenly in 2011. His friends and family have continued the work. “We’re making good progress,” said Robinson’s widow, Christie.

She plans to schedule a public meeting in late April to announce a preferred route. A feasibility study by CDP Engineers of Lexington will be finished in May, she said. Then it will be a matter of raising money. Keep up with the group’s progress on its Facebook page.

Bringing Town Branch Trail into downtown is a more complicated project. Two miles of the trial are finished, from Bracktown off Leestown Road to Alexandria Drive.

Funding has been secured to bring the trail to the Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s Leestown Campus at New Circle Road, but other details must be worked out before construction can begin, said Van Meter Pettit, the trail board’s president.

Pettit is lobbying the state to include the trail’s crossing of New Circle Road and connection to a nearby development’s trails as part of a project this summer to widen that section of the road and its bridges.

Pettit says his plan would be quicker, cheaper and comply with federal directives to include bicycle/pedestrian facilities in highway improvement projects. So far, the state has agreed to accommodate a future trail crossing, but says its budget won’t accommodate what Pettit wants.

The only other trail project coming this year is a half-mile one between Armstrong Mill Road and the Tates Creek schools campus, Lovan said. But several bike-lane projects will be started or finished this year.

Those include bike lanes on Southland Drive, from Nicholasville Road to Rosemont Garden; on Todd’s Road, where 1.5 miles of sidewalks and bike lanes will be added from Forest Hill Drive to Polo Club Boulevard; and Clays Mill Road, where an additional 1,500 feet of bike lanes will be added.

Three bike-lane projects are planned around the University of Kentucky campus: Rose Street between Euclid Avenue and Rose Lane; Cooper Drive between South Limestone and Sports Center Drive; and Woodland Avenue from Euclid to Hilltop Avenue.


Here’s my $5 million idea for the mayor; what’s yours?

July 29, 2012

You have until Wednesday to send Mayor Jim Gray your bold idea for improving Lexington.

Gray will choose one idea to submit next month to Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, which will give $5 million to the winning city and four $1 million prizes to runners-up to help turn their ideas into reality.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation wants “a bold idea that can make government work better, solve a serious problem or improve city life.” The idea should be tailored to Lexington, but also be replicable in other cities. It also needs an action plan that can achieve measurable results.

So far, citizens have submitted dozens of ideas through the city’s website, by mail and in “town hall” forums that Gray has conducted via telephone and social media.

So what’s my bold idea for the mayor? Set a goal to make Lexington the nation’s healthiest city through better nutrition and more exercise. The action plan would focus on developing our budding local food economy and making it easier for Lexingtonians to be physically active as part of their daily routines.

This project is perfect for Lexington, because the city has both huge health problems and the basic tools needed to solve them.

Think about it: Long before Men’s Health magazine named Lexington as America’s most sedentary city last year, Kentucky was a national chart-topper for unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, obesity, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, you name it.

On the other hand, Lexington has some of America’s richest soil, and it can grow food as well as horses. There is a lot of farmland, plus other good opportunities for healthy food production, from the indoor aquaponics farm now being built in a former urban bread bakery to suburban backyard gardens.

Lexington already has many smart, creative people working on these issues. They include university researchers, health educators, farmers, food entrepreneurs and non-profit community organizations such as Seedleaf and Food Chain.

As for exercise, Urban County Council members Jay McChord and Doug Martin, architect Van Meter Pettit and many others have become influential promoters of trails, bicycle lanes and better pedestrian infrastructure to make it safer and easier to exercise.

Lexington’s size, educated population, culture, soils, climate and central location make this an ideal place to pioneer new approaches to improving Americans’ health. Think how much progress could be made if a well-publicized city health crusade attracted national attention and other foundation funding?

These are just some of the issues to be explored: How can typical American urban and suburban infrastructure be retrofitted to make it safer for walking and biking? How can locally grown produce and meat be made more affordable? How can local food production be leveraged to create new jobs?

City government’s main role would be to help create infrastructure — everything from bike lanes and pedestrian paths to garden plots on vacant city land and commercial kitchens to help people turn local food into value-added products. With the right infrastructure and support, Lexington’s academics, entrepreneurs, volunteers and non-profit organizations could develop strategies other cities could emulate.

Well, that’s my idea. What’s yours? Send it to the mayor by going to the city’s website (lexingtonky.gov) and filling out an online form. Or mail your idea to: Mayors Challenge, City Hall, 200 E. Main St., Lexington, KY 40507.

Dick Robinson’s Legacy

The last couple of times I saw well-known sports agent Dick Robinson, he was telling me about his dream of extending the popular Legacy Trail from the Kentucky Horse Park to Georgetown. Robinson, 71, was an avid cyclist. He died a year ago Monday as the result of a brain injury suffered in a cycling accident.

Robinson’s widow, Christie, and friends Leslie and Keith Flanders have continued working on the idea, enlisting the support of Scott County property owners and officials.

They have set up an account with the Blue Grass Community Foundation to take donations to fund a feasibility study and are in the process of hiring CDP Engineers of Lexington to conduct it. The six-month study will recommend route options and estimate costs of the three- or four-mile extension so organizers can apply for state, federal and foundation construction grants, Leslie Flanders said.

To raise awareness for the project, there will be a 15-mile ride on the Legacy Trail in Robinson’s memory Monday at 8:30 a.m. at the trailhead on Iron Works Pike across from the horse park campground. Everyone is invited to come out to ride, or just to honor Robinson’s legacy dream.


Celebrate Sunday afternoon on Town Branch Trail

August 12, 2010

Town Branch Trail organizers are inviting the public to come out to Trailapalooza on Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The celebration will be held along the 1.8 miles of completed trail that extends from Leestown Road to Alexandria Drive west of downtown.

Trailapalooza will include live music, refreshments and a scavenger hunt. People (mainly kids) will be given a “passport” with questions about history and the environment along the new biking and walking trail. They will find answers to those questions on signs and markers along the trail. Prizes include a $200 gift certificate to Pedal Power bike shop, a $100 gift certificate to Phillip Gall’s outdoor store and memberships to Urban Active gym.

Eventually, the trail will run eight miles along Town Branch Creek from Leestown Road to Manchester Street downtown. Funding has been secured and design is under way for another 1.5-mile section of the trail. That section will connect McConnell Springs, the site where Lexington was founded, with the new Distillery District arts and entertainment area along Manchester Street near Rupp Arena.

Progress has been slower on Town Branch Trail than the 9-mile Legacy Trail, which is nearing completion between downtown’s East End and the Kentucky Horse Park. Part of the reason is that property issues are much more complicated along Town Branch, much of which has been developed property for two centuries. “Some of the industrial property inside New Circle Road is a puzzle,” Town Branch Trail President Van Meter Pettit says. “It just takes a lot of time to sort out.”

Speaking of the Legacy Trail, mark your calendar for its grand opening celebration, Sunday afternoon, Sept. 12.


Public meeting Tuesday for Legacy Trail art

January 9, 2010

People with ideas or who want to learn more about the process for putting public art along the Legacy Trail are invited to a public meeting Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at the Downtown Arts Center, 141 East Main St.

At the meeting will be Todd Bressi and Stacy Levy, an urban designer and artist who were chosen to coordinate the project. They have done similar work elsewhere, including Washington, D.C., and Pinellas County, Fla.

Marnie Holoubek, who helped form the Legacy Trail Public Art Consortium, said organizers want to continue the strong public participation that has marked planning for the Legacy Trail, a 9-mile walking and bike path from the Kentucky Horse Park to downtown Lexington’s East End.

There will be another public meeting before the public art master plan is completed in April, said Steve Austin, director of the Blue Grass Community Foundation’s Legacy Center. For more information, contact Austin at the Legacy Center at (859) 225-3343 or saustin@bgcf.org.


East, west ends show promise of downtown

November 29, 2009

There’s more energy in two long-neglected corners of downtown Lexington than there has been in decades, and Monday night will be a good chance to glimpse some of it.

The East End Holiday Celebration is from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Isaac Murphy Park on the corner of East Third Street and Midland Avenue. Everyone is welcome to help decorate a community Christmas tree and enjoy hot cider, hot chocolate and caroling.

That same evening, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the opposite side of downtown, supporters of the Lexington Distillery District are gathering at Buster’s, a popular nightclub in a recently restored 140-year-old bourbon warehouse that is part of the district along Manchester Street.

The economic downturn has forced the Urban County Council to whittle down its list of bonded capital projects to avoid hurting the city’s credit rating. The cutting will commence Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. at the Budget and Finance Committee meeting in City Hall.

Monday’s gathering at Buster’s is part of a grass-roots effort to urge council members not to cut $3.2 million allocated for initial infrastructure improvements in the Distillery District. The Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation and other community groups last week launched an e-mail and petition campaign.

Although most council members have voiced support for the Distillery District, tough choices must be made. It is competing with about $61 million in other capital bonding requests, such as street-resurfacing projects and maintenance items for city buildings.

Barry McNees, the Distillery District’s lead developer, has made a compelling case for city investment, which would be used for street and sidewalk improvements and work on the Town Branch Trail through the area.

McNees said the timing of council support is critical. That’s because a former vice president of one of Kentucky’s major distillers has formed a new company that wants to invest about $11 million initially and perhaps $25 million eventually in a boutique distillery, bottling plant and restaurant in part of the long-abandoned Pepper Distillery complex.

Before the company commits to the investment, it wants to make sure the city will provide the public infrastructure needed to support it, McNees said. Because much of that area was largely abandoned for decades, it lacks modern infrastructure.

The distillery’s initial investment, combined with $11 million in other private money already invested in the development, would qualify the Distillery District for state-approved tax-increment financing. That means tax revenues generated from new development in the area would repay the city for up to $45.8 million in infrastructure improvements.

Several council members I talked with last week said they think the Distillery District is a smart investment for creating new jobs and tax revenues and rehabilitating a shabby part of town.

“Once we can start investing in the public part — curbs, gutters, burying utility lines, etc. — the businesses will follow more quickly,” Council member Linda Gorton said. “And then the revenues will come in.”

Like the Distillery District, the East End is coming back to life after decades of decline. If you haven’t driven around there lately, come down to the Christmas tree lighting and take a tour; you won’t recognize the place.

New housing developments are nearing completion, the Lyric Theatre is being restored, and an art garden is planned for Isaac Murphy Park, which will soon be the end of the 9-mile Legacy Trail to the Kentucky Horse Park.

Monday night’s holiday event is being sponsored by the city, the Blue Grass Community Foundation’s Legacy Center, the Isaac Murphy Art Garden board, the Living Arts and Science Center and the William Wells Brown and Martin Luther King neighborhood associations.

The East End and Distillery District are dramatic bookends for the revitalization that downtown Lexington has been experiencing for several years, and Vice Mayor Jim Gray sees a pattern.

Both are projects that focus first on improving the economy and quality of life for Lexington residents; attracting visitors is a secondary goal. And both are authentic reflections of Lexington’s history and culture — the rich African-American heritage of the East End and the bourbon-making legacy of the Distillery District.

“They’re both recognizing the value and inspiration of history,” Gray said. “But they’re not being stuck in history; they’re building on it and moving us forward.”


Help choose the Legacy Trail’s logo

July 31, 2009

Organizers of the Legacy Trail, a 9-mile bike and walking path being developed from Lexington’s East End to the Kentucky Horse Park, are seeking your help in choosing a logo.

The public is being asked to vote among three logos. Register and cast your vote at www.mylegacytrail.com. Or you can text your chosen logo’s name (see chart below) to (859) 797-4900.

Those who register will be included in drawings for a $500 gift certificate from Pedal the Planet bike shop, a $250 gift certificate from John’s Run Walk Shop and a $100 gift certificate from J&H Outfitters.

Voting began yesterday evening at Thursday Night Live at Cheapside downtown and will continue through Aug. 13. The winning logo will be announced at Thursday Night Live on Aug. 20.


Mining fears threaten Legacy Trail land swap

November 19, 2008

Plans to build the nine-mile Legacy Trail for cyclists and pedestrians between downtown Lexington and the Kentucky Horse Park have hit a roadblock.

The city’s Board of Adjustment failed to approve a land swap between Vulcan Materials Co. and the University of Kentucky that trail organizers say is essential.

Vulcan wants to swap the university some land surface next to UK’s farm complex north of I-75 between Newtown and Georgetown roads, in return for the right to mine limestone under some of the university land in the future.

Although Vulcan operates a quarry nearby, there are no immediate plans to mine underground. The surface area UK would get from Vulcan is where the trail would go.

Without that land swap, the Legacy Trail can’t be built — at least not before the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, said Steve Austin of the Bluegrass Community Foundation’s Legacy Center.

The seven-member Board of Adjustment voted 2-2 on Oct. 31 to reject the land swap, with one member abstaining and two absent. The two board members who voted against it were concerned that underground mining could endanger the Royal Springs Aquifer, the water supply for Georgetown.

Because of the tie vote, the issue will be brought up again at the board’s meeting at 1 p.m. Dec. 12 in the council chambers.

But officials charged with protecting the aquifer see no problem with the land swap, so long as they have the right to review and object to any specific plans for underground mining.

“Our biggest concern … is where they make their entry point” for mining, said Billy Jenkins, general manager of Georgetown Municipal Water and Sewer Service and chairman of the Royal Springs Water Supply Protection Committee. “I told the committee that, with the plans we’ve seen, we’re OK right now, but we don’t want to give up our rights.”

In fact, Jenkins said, he hopes the Legacy Trail will be built and that some of the educational signs planned for trail side will explain the Royal Springs Aquifer. “We don’t get enough information out to the public about their water supply,” he said.

Urban County Councilman Jay McChord, one of the Legacy Trail’s organizers, is urging citizens who support it to attend the board’s Dec. 12 meeting to make their feelings known. “If the board says no, they will have killed the trail,” he said.

Lexington faith leaders meet to plan emergency response

In what might be the first meeting of its kind in Lexington, every religious leader in town has been invited to a gathering at 11 a.m. Thursday at Second Presbyterian Church on Main Street.

One purpose of the meeting is to discuss creating a clergy communications network that could be ready to respond to a local emergency. Joanne Hale of the Church World Service in Florida will be there to offer disaster-preparedness training.

Beyond that, said the Rev. Christopher Skidmore of the Kentucky Council of Churches, “We’re not going into it with any kind of agenda. Whatever the religious leaders want to come out of it will come out of it.”

Skidmore said only 40 of the 400 religious leaders who were invited have confirmed they will attend, but he is hoping many more will come. So far, it’s a diverse group. “Our first respondents were from the Muslim community,” he said.

Time has been set aside for private midday prayers, and the lunch caterer will adhere to kosher and halal dietary requirements.

The meeting was prompted by remarks Mayor Jim Newberry made several months ago to the Downtown Christian Unity Task Force. “He made mention of some of the desires he has for a community that is more united and connected,” Skidmore said.

For example, if Lexington were to experience another disaster such as the 2006 crash of Comair Flight 5191, it would be helpful for the city to have a single point of contact to alert the faith community, and for members of the clergy of all faiths to be trained in disaster counseling.

“We are just creating the space in which they can do whatever they wish to do together,” Skidmore said. “I think we’ll find that we agree on far more than we disagree on.”


More than 100 come out for the Legacy Trail

October 25, 2008

Saturday morning was cold and gray, but more than 40 people came to Cheapside before 8 a.m. for a five-mile bicycle ride on the first section of the proposed Legacy Trail from downtown to the Kentucky Horse Park.

The group rode five miles out to Coldstream Park, where another 50 or so people came out to comment and offer suggestions to developers of the nine-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail.

“You go to these things and you always see the bikers and walkers, but we’re getting support from everybody,” said Keith Lovan, a city engineer who is project manager for the trail. “They all see something in it for them.”

The city is building the trail almost as a linear park to provide recreation and education about Lexington’s history and culture. The Bluegrass Community Foundation’s Legacy Center is supporting the effort as one of two things it hopes will be tangible legacies to Lexington from the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

More than $3 million has been raised to build the basic trail from Newtown Pike at Citation Boulevard through Coldstream and Maine Chance farms to the Horse Park before the equestrian games. A site plan will be completed by January and construction will begin next summer. In later years, the trail will be completed in and around existing streets downtown to Cheapside.  For more information about the trail, go to: http://legacycenter.ning.com

(Click on photos to enlarge and see captions.)


Legacy Trail would improve health, community

October 24, 2008

Something exciting is about to happen along the Newtown Pike corridor between downtown and the Kentucky Horse Park.

It will happen in nearby fields and just over the hills. Along Cane Run Creek. Up through the Lexmark campus and Coldstream Park, across the University of Kentucky’s Maine Chance Farm and past the Vulcan limestone quarry and Spindletop Farm.

In the 700 days left before the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, the city of Lexington will build a basic version of the Legacy Trail, a nine-mile bicycle and pedestrian path that is a key piece of the city’s Greenway Master Plan.

What will the Legacy Trail be? Planners see it as a human connection between urban and rural Lexington, a place for recreation, art and education. But they really want to know what you want the trail to be.

This week, a series of public meetings are being held with “stakeholders” — more than 300 nearby property owners, neighborhood groups, community and arts organizations.

Beginning at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, there will be a public event called “Party on the Trail” at Coldstream Park to start publicizing the route and to ask for suggestions about what amenities should be developed around it.

“It has got to be more than a ribbon of asphalt,” said Steve Austin, director of the Bluegrass Community Foundation’s Legacy Center. “It’s got to be a story about who we were, and what this place was and is. It’s a story about where we’re going to go and who we’re going to become in the 21st century.”

The idea of a trail from downtown to the Horse Park has been batted around for years. David Mohney, a UK architecture professor, had noted that much of the property between the two was in very few hands. The major landholders are Eastern State Hospital (soon to become the Bluegrass Community and Technical College campus), Lexmark, the University of Kentucky and Vulcan Materials.

Commerce Lexington’s 2007 trip to Boulder, Colo., showed local leaders how important bicycle and pedestrian trails could be to improving a community’s health and quality of life. Mayor Jim Newberry made the Legacy Trail a priority. Activist Marnie Holoubek, Urban County Councilman Jay McChord, UK Agriculture Dean Scott Smith and others started making things happen.

Keith Lovan of the city engineering department is overseeing the project. And its unofficial cheerleader is the Legacy Center, which is using money from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and other sources to see that the trail and an East End neighborhood revitalization project are accomplished as legacies of the 2010 Equestrian Games.

So far, more than $3 million has been raised to begin trail construction between the Horse Park and the intersection of Citation Boulevard and Newtown Pike. Initially, at least, much of the rest of the trail into town will run on existing pavement.

Austin took me on a tour of the route earlier this week. Several of us plan to ride it on bicycles before the party Saturday morning — if it isn’t raining too hard.

The Legacy Trail would begin downtown at Cheapside Park, go west on Second Street to Jefferson Street and north through what is now the Eastern State property to the Northside YMCA on Loudon Avenue.

Austin said planners are working with Lexmark on a formal agreement to have the trail go through its campus. “Lexmark has been a good partner so far,” he said.

Lexmark’s property holds one of two keys to the trail’s success: a private bridge that crosses New Circle Road. After crossing the bridge, the trail would run through Lexmark property along Cane Run Creek and other property near Newtown Pike to the intersection with Citation Boulevard.

Eventually, planners hope to build a bridge across Newtown Pike so the trail can continue seamlessly through the Coldstream campus and city park, which would have additional trail loops.

Once the trail leaves Coldstream Park and goes onto Maine Chance Farm, it meets another obscure piece of infrastructure that has been a godsend to trail planners: a small box tunnel under Interstate 75 that connects to the north end of the farm and the Spindletop property. The trail would probably enter the Horse Park at the campground.

Eventually, planners hope to connect the Legacy Trail to other trails and to the proposed Isaac Murphy Park in the East End neighborhood. McChord would like to see it go south from downtown, all the way through Jessamine County to the Kentucky River. To the west of downtown, Van Meter Pettit is planning the Town Branch Trail through the proposed Lexington Distillery District, another potential connection.

Linking Lexington’s urban and rural neighborhoods in ways that don’t require motor vehicles would be good for our health and sense of community. It also could help us and our visitors learn more about Lexington — and not just the usual history lessons from the 18th and 19th centuries.

More than 1,000 years ago, Fayette County was home to the Adena people, who left behind a huge mound of earth not far from the Horse Park. “Could we tell the story through landscape architecture and earthwork?” Austin wondered. “Could we tell the story of the pre-settlement environment — what trees and grasses were here?”

Austin also would like the trail to have kiosks explaining more recent history, such as how Lexmark’s forerunner, IBM, led an economic shift toward manufacturing in Lexington in the 1950s at the campus that gave the world Courier typeface and the Selectric typewriter ball.

Who knows what you might be able to learn about your city someday, simply by lacing up your shoes or climbing on a bicycle.


Have your say this week about development

October 20, 2008

If you live in Lexington, you don’t need to wait until the Nov. 4 election to have your say about the future.  There are several opportunities this week to comment on three development projects that could have a big effect on our city’s future.

On Tuesday, in the Urban County Council chambers, there will be public hearings on proposals to use tax-increment financing (TIF) to support two private developments.

At 6 p.m., the public is invited to comment on plans by a group that wants to turn a long-neglected section of Manchester Street into the Lexington Distillery District, a multi-use and entertainment area.

I think the Distillery District is a visionary project that has a lot of potential to improve downtown.  It is a great example of what the state’s TIF law was designed to do. You can read some of what I have written about the project by clicking here and here.  See the project’s own Web site here.

At 7 p.m., the public is invited to comment on TIF projects related to the Webb Companies’ proposed CentrePointe development on the block bounded by Main, Vine, Upper and Limestone streets.

If you follow this blog and my column in the Herald-Leader, you know I don’t think much of CentrePointe or the TIF projects attached to it.  If you want to know why, click “CentrePointe” in the categories list at right. Click here to see CentrePointe’s Web site.

A different kind of project with a lot of potential to improve Lexington is the Legacy Trail, a nine-mile pedestrian and bicycle trail from downtown to the Kentucky Horse Park.

Organizers plan a series of information and listening sessions Thursday and Friday with area “stakeholders” and a party Saturday morning at Coldstream Park to gather comments and suggestions from the general public.  There also will be an information booth at Thursday Night Live at Cheapside.

I’ll be writing more about the Legacy Trail project later this week.  Click here for the Legacy Trail’s Web site, which has more information about the public event Saturday.