City officials are thanking a “visionary group of donors” for moving the proposed Town Branch Park one step closer to reality.
The Town Branch Park – envisioned as the centerpiece of a 22-mile long uninterrupted trail system running through Lexington – now has over $5 million private dollars behind it. Mayor Jim Gray calls the announcement a seminal moment for the ambitious project.
"It's the largest single collection of gifts for city project that anybody can remember," he says.
The 10-acre park would cover the Manchester / Cox street parking lot behind Rupp Arena. While landscape architects SCAPE won a competition to design the park in 2012, Town Branch Fund Advisory Board chair Ann Bakhaus says the designs continue to evolve as more public input is gathered.
"The amphitheater's a lot larger. The space... is going to hold about 3,000 people. It wasn't anywhere near that big before," she explains. The latest sketches also place more emphasis on children's activities and expand the dog park.
Now, the mayor says the fundraising campaign will kick into overdrive, as the city reaches out to the wider community for donations – something Bakhaus hopes will bring the entire city together.
Construction on a greenway connecting the Town Branch and Legacy trails is slated to start in 2018.