Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Council likes proposals for pedestrian bridge, signs and new entrance to reclaimed park area along creek

The Midway City Council looked favorably Monday evening on projects that would make the area along Lee's Branch a working part of the city's Walter Bradley Park.

After recounting its recent work, the citizens advisory committee for the park recommended that the city build a pedestrian bridge across the creek, create at least one major entrance to the area from downtown, and erect signs inside and leading to the park.

"I think all those are doable this year," Council Member Bruce Southworth said after hearing committee member John Holloway estimate for the bridge of $7,000 to $8,000, using as much volunteer labor as possible.

The park already has one new bridge, across a run. In a March 15
photo, Joy Arnold, who lives on an adjoining lot, suns with her dog.
"I'd like to see that No. 1 on the list," Southworth said. "I'd like to see that done as soon as possible."

The council earlier indicated agreement with Mayor Grayson Vandegrift's request to put $10,000 in the budget for improvements at the park. Vandegrift said that probably wouldn't cover all three projects but he noted that the city could also use $3,200 in a special park account, funded mainly by a grant and $10 memberships in Friends of Walter Bradley Park.

Holloway said the best site for the bridge appears to be about 50 feet downstream from the site of a bridge that led to a distillery on the north side of the creek 100 years ago. An abutment for that bridge still exists.

Holloway said the site seems to be where the banks are highest and the creek is narrowest, limiting construction costs and the difficulty of getting a Corps of Engineers permit, which will require non-interference with the waterway. He said the bridge, to be made of steel beams and wood, would span 32 feet.

For the proposed entranceway, probably at the north end of Gratz Street, Holloway said local architect Debra Shockley has agreed to create a design at no charge.

Later, he said, the city should create an entrance on Northside Drive behind the library and build a trail that would lead to the north end of the bridge "and basically connect together three parts of town." He said that as the city expands north of Interstate 64, the park will be even more centrally located.

Holloway said the trail down the hill to the creek would need to have a grade of 8 percent or less so it could be used by a stroller or walker device, but wouldn't necessarily have to comply with the Americans for Disabilities Act.

Council Member Libby Warfield said the city should try to make the entire park ADA-compliant, and noted that a past plan had called for a winding trail to lessen the grade. Cecilia Gass, chair of the park committee, said that plan would have cost $40,000.

Council Member Sara Hicks said the park could be ADA-compliant except in areas where the slope is "severe."

Warfield said she wants to see a route to Gratz Street from Northside, which would give residents in that area a shorter, safer way to downtown.

The committee displayed some park plans prepared by University of Kentucky landscape-architecture students.
Park committee chair Cecilia Gass showed one rendering by University of Kentucky landscape-architecture students.

Vandegrift complimented the committee for its work. "They really have created a new part of the park," he said. "It's beatutiful." He said his goal is to make the park "a natural and true gathering place for our community."

The council will hold its second workshop on the budget Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall. All committee and council meetings are open to the public.

In other business, as the council approved the minutes of the last meeting, Warfield said she feared that "People got the impression I'm in favor of pouring more sidewalks" in areas that don't have them, which is incorrect. "We've got our hands full right now."

Hicks said she may have been misinterpreted on a sidewalk question, too: "I just want to make clear that I really love trees also."

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