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Town Branch Park to Transform Downtown Lexington, KY

Lexington, KY — September 22, 2022 — Final designs for the proposed 10-acre Town Branch Park include an urban dog park, water play areas, a children’s play ground, a stage and plenty of trails.

The privately-funded public park unveiled the designs Thursday.

Those designs have been fine-tuned after hearing input from more than 16,000 community members, said Allison Lankford, executive director of Town Branch Park.

“Town Branch Park is going to lift up our entire downtown and take it to the next level,” said Mayor Linda Gorton. “It’s a destination park. It will draw a steady stream of visitors, both those from outside and those who live here.”

The 7,600 square foot urban dog park will have two pens: one for larger dogs and one for smaller dogs. The water play area, which is 3,350 square feet, will have a traditional splash pad but will also incorporate science, technology and engineering with hands-on activities that will show children and adults alike how streams and water ways work.

“We always intended to have a water feature intended for play because we thought downtown really needed that,” Lankford said. “We have beautiful water features (downtown) but they were never intended for play. As the design evolved, we added an educational component a STEM component that compliments Town Branch Creek.” The water play area and the children’s play area are handicap accessible.

After hearing from the arts community, Town Branch Park made tweaks to the stage and great lawn, where people can sit for performances, Lankford said.

Lexington Philharmonic’s Picnic with the Pops has already said it will move its annual event to Town Branch Park once it is completed. A portion of Town Branch Creek is also part of the park.

David Dickinson, a Lexington citizen who was present for the park’s unveiling at Central Bank Center Thursday, said the part of the park he’s excited for the most is the creek.

“You have to keep the native plants around and keep the native animals around,” Dickinson said. “If you have too many invasive species, you got a lot of problems.”

Representatives of Town Branch Park and its design firm, Sasaki, provided design details for key features of the park Thursday. In addition, attendees watched a fly-through video and viewed a scaled model of the park.

The creek is already there but the plans call for the creek bed to be restored.

Groundbreaking on the park is set for spring of 2023.

The completion date is 2025.

“Since its inception, Town Branch Park was envisioned as Lexington’s living room, a place where everyone is welcome and the community can flourish,” Lankford said. “We are thankful for the overwhelming support for this project, and today unveil a design shaped by the input of thousands of Lexingtonians who graciously shared their knowledge, ideas and vision for Town Branch Park.”

The privately funded Town Branch Park is part of a larger re-imagining of the area around Central Bank Center and Rupp Arena on Main, Vine, High and Manchester streets. The 10-acre public park is adjacent to the recently renovated and expanded Central Bank Center.

Construction on the park could not start until the expansion of Central Bank Center was completed. Much of the area where the proposed park will go was used as a staging area for construction of the center. The Central Bank Center is now largely completed.

The price tag for the park has continued to climb due to escalating construction costs and a new main entrance on High Street.

Lankford said the group has raised $34.7 million to date. It still needs to raise an additional $2.3 million for the construction phase.

In addition, the group is also fundraising for an endowment to help with operating costs in the first two years of its opening. Lankford said the park will be self-sustaining and will generate rental and other fees through performances at its pavilion and rental fees for other events.

“It’s a public park,” Lankford said. There will be ticketed events at its stage and amphitheater but the rest of the park will remain open to the public, she said.

Gorton said changes will be made to improve safety in the area and accessibility to the park.

Carl Graham, a resident who lives near the park, expressed concern about the homeless population in the area and wondered how it will affect the park.

“I don’t know what their plans are here. It will be very interesting to see, because that’s a big homeless hangout right now, just behind the Salvation Army,” Graham said.


The original plans for the park included an entrance on Main Street on the former ramp of the now torn down Jefferson Street bridge. A parking dispute between the city, Main Street Baptist Church, the Lexington Center Corp. and the park meant park officials had to look at moving the main entrance. Main Street Baptist has church buildings on either side of Jefferson Street.

The church and Lexington Center Corp. have had a long-standing oral agreement to allow the church to use one of its surface parking lots for services. That parking lot is no longer part of the entrance to the park because of the issue with Main Street Baptist Church.

Lankford said the public can still access the park from Main Street through the Town Branch Trail, which enters the park from Vine Street in front of Central Bank Center and from Manchester Street in the Distillery District.

The new entrance off of High and Manchester Street will include a tunnel under Manchester Street and a pedestrian bridge into the park. The city has contributed approximately $6.2 million toward that entrance because it is in the public right-of-way or on city-owned property.

Parking has long been raised as a concern with the park.

There are currently more than 4,200 parking spaces within one block of the park and more than 6,000 within three blocks of the park through a variety of garages and on-street parking spots, park officials have said.


The public will still have opportunities to view the final designs and a model of the park over the next several weeks. Lankford said they are also looking for public input on programming and events for the park.

Here’s some of the pop-up viewing locations:

Lexington Senior Center

  • 195 Life Lane
  • Friday Sept. 23
  • 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.

Greyline Station

  • 101 W. Loudon Ave.
  • Saturday, Sept. 24
  • 9 a.m. – noon

Lexington Public Library Northside Branch

  • 1733 Russell Cave Road
  • Monday, Sept. 26
  • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Lexington Public Library Village Branch

  • 1801 Alexandria Drive, Suite 136
  • Tuesday, Sept. 27
  • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Lexington Public Library Eastside Branch

  • 3000 Blake James Drive
  • Wednesday, Sept. 28
  • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Lexington Public Library Beaumont Branch

  • 3080 Fieldstone Way
  • Thursday, Sept. 29
  • 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Thursday Night Live

  • 251 W. Main St.
  • Thursday, Sept. 29
  • 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Lexington Public Library Tates Creek Branch

  • 3628 Walden Dr.
  • Friday, Sept. 30
  • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Lexington Farmers Market

  • Tandy Centennial Park
  • Saturday, Oct. 1
  • 9 a.m. – noon
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