Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Volunteers build on earlier work, plant 200 dogwood and redbud trees along creek, elsewhere in park Sunday

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift led his pregnant wife, Katie, across Lee's Branch during Sunday's work session.
John Holloway with shovel and tree markers.
Story and photos by Leah Sharp
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The city’s Walter Bradley Park is getting more attention than usual, from a $10,000 budget proposal by Mayor Grayson Vandegrift to some hard work by the Citizens Action Committee he appointed to look after the park. 

 On Sunday, the committee and other volunteers planted redbuds and dogwood trees in the front and back of the park and along Lee’s Branch. The committee has been working hard to improve the park through volunteers and subcommittees.

Much of the work has been done by John Holloway, a University of Kentucky fine-arts professor who moved to Midway five years ago. He said he started to clean the park after living in Midway for two years and trying to walk through the wooded area near the creek and not getting anywhere because of tree limbs and invasive species, so he decided to clean it up so people could actually enjoy it.

Little red flags mark spots for trees on the trail that Holloway has cleared along the creek.
Holloway created two trails through the area, using woodchips from bush honeysuckle and other invasive species he removed, and mulch from Midway-area nursery operator Dave Leonard.

“If we didn’t have someone like John to spearhead this, and the energy and vision he has, it wouldn’t be happening,” volunteer Dottie Cordray said.
The committee met its goal to plant 200 trees on Sunday. UPDATE, May 3: Holloway told the city council May 2 that 100 redbuds, 100 dogwoods and 30 sumacs were planted, and "A lot of people brought other trees that we planted."

“All the sticks were picked up for the park to be in mowing shape,” Cordray said. ”Once the park is mowed, the committee will lay grass seed.”

Vandegrift said “It was a picture perfect day. It has been a lot of fun, there is a great crowd today, and group of volunteers. . . . The volunteers got a lot done.” He added, “The city really comes together to work on something that is important to everyone.”

The mayor said his whole vision of the park is to make it a place where people can come and use it a lot. “I really think kids will enjoy the trail throughout the park,” he said.

He said when people think of Midway, they think of the downtown area, restaurants, and beautiful homes around the city, but not many know about the creek inside the park, much less the park. “People of Midway don’t mention Walter Bradley Park. . . . When you visit the website for Midway, there is no image of Walter Bradley Park and our water feature, and that is going to change here soon.”

The Citizens Action Committee’s main goal is to build a bridge across the creek with the $10,000 budget line that it and Vandegrift are requesting from the city council. “The stepping stones across the creek are not made for everybody,” Holloway said.

Holloway started a group called the Friends of Walter Bradley Park. There is a $10 fee to become a member of the group; the fee is used strictly for the improvements of the park. "We feel like that's an important steppingstone to keeping the momentum alive," he told the city council May 2.

The city opened an account for the money, which is is only spent on the park. He said the account has $3,500, including a $2,000 grant from a group that funds removal of invasive species.

The committee is always looking for extra hands to help, said Holloway.

Vandegrift and his wife Katie were among the volunteers Sunday. Holloway jokingly said Vandegrift is really good at digging holes. “That seems to be his area of expertise, amongst other things,” he said.

The committee will meet May 2 with a group from the UK landscape architecture department, which will present the second phase of its overall plan for the park.

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