Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Committee decides not to recommend further conservation easement for land along Lee's Branch

A city council committee decided Monday evening that Midway should not give up control of seven wooded acres along Lee’s Branch in return for state money that can be used to make the tract usable by the public but maintain its natural state.

Two of the three members of the Cemetery and City Property Committee, Steven Craig and Libby Warfield, opposed the idea suggested by committee chair Sara Hicks and Zeb Weese of the state Land Heritage Conservation Fund, which could provide up to $15,000 for clearing and trailmaking.

Hicks said giving the state a conservation easement would further protect the property and attract tourists. She noted that the state fund has preserved no land in Woodford County, and that few towns have such property inside their borders.

Craig and Warfield said said they did not want to tie the hands of future city councils and mayors, and the property is already protected by a conservation easement that gave the city control of the land in 1991.

It prohibits “industrial and commercial activity” on the land but allows farming and “recreational activities approved by the City of Midway,” subject to certain requirements. It allows the city to build “facilities deemed necessary and appropriate by the City of Midway,” including access roads and “recreational and community facilities, and accessory structures,” including fences, which apparently could not be done under the state easement.

Hicks said that under the previous city administration, city employees mowed grass too close along the creek rather than maintaining the banks in a natural state. Warfield said, "We can stop them from doing those things."

Warfield displayed plans for a trail area, footbridge and Gratz Street improvements that were drawn in 2007, estimating construction costs of $122,000 to $171,000. She said there was no money for it at the time, but said she thought that the city would eventually have money for the project.

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