Herald-Leader Editorial

OK Ashland historic district

Supported by planners, community

January 18, 2013 

Urban County Council members should vote Tuesday night to create the Ashland Park Historic District.

It's the right thing for this beautiful, truly historic Lexington neighborhood and for the community.

Moreover, the proposed district had received the approval of 75 percent of property owners who voted on it; was endorsed by the city's planning staff, and approved in a 7-4 vote by the city's planning commission.

It has been recognized since 1986 as an historic district by the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Register of Historic Places.

The proposed district is bounded by Desha Road and South Hanover Avenue on the east and west, and Richmond and Fontaine roads on the north and south. It include 175 properties with 283 owners.

The area was developed by descendants of statesman Henry Clay in the early 20th century on land Clay had purchased. Hanover, the name given an avenue in the district, was the Virigina county where Clay was born.

The landscape architecture firm of Frederick Law Olmsted — whose credits include Central Park in New York and Biltmore in Asheville, N.C. — laid out the neighborhood, providing our modern era a wonderful example of inspired design.

The gently curving streets slow traffic naturally, single-family homes and fourplexes intermingle peacefully and wide medians, pocket parks and other greenspaces make this densely populated neighborhood close to the commercial center one of the most desirable in Lexington.

Opponents complain that historic districts impose unfair financial burdens on property owners, who must go through an approval process before carrying out any significant external work that goes beyond painting their houses, performing routine maintenance or changing landscaping.

That may be true, but the experience of property owners in other historic districts nationwide, and the 14 already in existence in Fayette County, is that property values are more stable and rise more consistently than in other neighborhoods.

The Ashland Park Historic District is a no-brainer. The citizens who have worked for almost a year to create it deserve a round of applause from their neighbors and the community.

Council members can show their appreciation by approving this long-overdue historic district.

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