Tuesday, October 11, 2016

John Holloway, bridge builder, leads the way for improvements at Walter Bradley Park

Story by Marissa Beucler
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

John Holloway isn’t even Midway’s park manager yet, but has already made his mark with the construction of a pedestrian bridge and otherimprovements in in Walter Bradley Park. The bridge is complete and a ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday.

“Many people kept saying they would love to have a bridge to connect the north and south sides of town,” Holloway noted.

The community has wanted this bridge over Lee Branch for a very long time, and Holloway brought a full skill set to the project.

As a theatre professor at the University of Kentucky for 33 years, he has design, layout and carpentry skills that helped him design and reshape areas of the park as well as establishing Friends of the Park, a committee to help with the work.

Holloway and his bride of five years, Patty Holloway, relocated from Lexington to Midway because it was equidistant between their two workplaces. Both have volunteered in Midway, which brought the couple into helping with the park, starting with cleanup jobs about a year and a half ago.

“He is very valuable and represents great qualities about Midway,” said Mayor Grayson Vandegrift. He said Friends of the Park is an efficient team that completes tasks to benefit the community.

Vandegrift said he and his Citizens Advisory Committee came up with the idea of a park board that would include an unpaid manager to look after the park, and “John was sort of the obvious choice.” Vandegrift said he will appoint the board soon.

Estimates for a bridge had run as high as $60,000, but Holloway said it could be done for $7,000 to $8,000 and the city council budgeted $10,000 for park improvements. Friends of the Park has raised another $4,000 through private donations and grants. The materials cost half of the estimated budget, and the labor was done by city employees already on the payroll.

Holloway’s eagerness for the project helped him connect with other beneficial volunteers. Consulting geologist Gina Morris was able to get very quickly the Army Corps of Engineers permit to build in a flood plain and span the creek. Morris said working with Holloway has been a tremendous experience for her. University of Kentucky students and Jayoung Koo, assistant professor of landscape architecture, also helped by creating designs for park improvements.

The community members who contributed to the project have all volunteered at the Walter Bradley Park for several years, Morris said. “I have been around the park for 15 years now and I walk my dog everyday there. I can’t wait to walk my dog across the bridge rather than the corner street.”
The entrance at the foot of Gratz Street has its first sign. Paths built by Holloway and volunteers are visible.
A long-neglected cemetery near the creek got a cleanup, a sign and a low rock fence to protect it. 

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