When you think of great urban parks, you have to travel to Central Park, The High Line or Bryant Park in New York City; Millennium Park in Chicago; Piedmont Park in Atlanta; or even down the road to Olmstead and The Parklands at Floyds Fork in Louisville.
Those parks were the inspiration for a green oasis in our urban core as we aspire to increase our position as a destination city and enhance the quality of life for our entire community with Town Branch Park. Amenities will include the Town Branch Trail, a playground, water play, dog park, and a concert stage and amphitheater.
Through years of planning, community engagement, and fundraising, Town Branch Park is taking the next significant steps to becoming a reality.
The enthusiasm for the park and what it represents is reflected in the fact that we have raised more than $25 million dollars –more than 80% of the campaign’s initial goal.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, the community has embraced the positive impact Town Branch Park will have on Lexington and invested in it. Well-planned urban parks work as catalysts that spur and support private investment — both residential and commercial. During COVID-19, our parks have become even more highly valued assets — providing a sense of community, connection, and recreation. Town Branch Park can play a critical role in economic development and recovery as we continue to rebound from downturn as a result of the pandemic.
And because of the strong fundraising effort, Town Branch Park can begin the final design and engineering phase.
International and local firms have been hired to bring the project to life. Boston-based Sasaki will be the lead designer, supported by a team of local firms. It is a world-class design firm with extensive experience working with nonprofits such as Town Branch Park. Sasaki has led the design of civic open spaces, including award-winning landscapes like Cincinnati’s Smale Riverfront Park, the Chicago Riverwalk, Boston City Hall Plaza, and Moore Square in Raleigh.
Many of our nation’s signature urban gathering spaces were built with private money and maintained through conservancies, which care for large and small urban parks across the country. Town Branch Park has chosen the conservancy model so local taxpayer dollars can be focused on other important areas, such as public safety, roads, and neighborhood parks. Through the conservancy model, the park will be able to provide extensive free programming, a high standard of maintenance, and a high level of safety and security.
Before final design plans are developed, now is the time when we take the community’s vision and turn it into reality with input from residents and a talented team of local experts. Intentional efforts have been made from the beginning to be inclusive of all segments of the community.
There will be several additional opportunities for continued input and involvement throughout the process. The first community engagement session with Sasaki will be held this month.
Seize the opportunity for your voice to be heard and have ownership in what the park will become. This park is your park, so your involvement is crucial. Check out our website at www.townbranchpark.org as well as our Facebook and Instagram pages for details on timing and how to sign up. We also encourage you to sign up for our e-newsletter so you can stay up to date on all the latest news.
With your help, this park will be an example of how a land reuse project can work for everyone. Town Branch Park will create opportunities for people to interact with people they might not typically engage.
There will be no income or race barrier. People will step outside their comfort zone and find something so much more than they expected.
Everyone will be welcome in Lexington’s living room.
As downtown business owners and, more importantly, as fathers of young children who will grow up here and hopefully want to raise their children here, we are excited about the opportunity this park will provide. It is the right vision for this time and the next half-century. It will be an inclusive catalyst for music, arts, recreation, and economic development in the heart of our city.
We can’t think of a better use for a former parking lot, can you?