Ky. Voices: Can't we save something natural in Lexington's southern suburbs?

October 8, 2013 

I support a recent letter to the editor suggesting that CentrePointe stay as it is now. As a matter of fact, that sentiment is going around town openly, as people find they love the calm of this green and the idea of a central gathering place.

And why shouldn't they?

Every recent study of human psychology reinforces the fact that people benefit significantly from proximity to natural areas, that stress and crime are lower, and that individuals exercise more. We may have been told that more buildings, concrete and tax revenues will make us just as happy, but they won't.

If you visit great cities you will find they have something in common. No matter how soaring their architecture, it is punctuated by significant greens. Parks in places like Washington, New York and Paris are as memorable as any other landmark.

To be healthy, children need outdoor activity and links with nature, and like the elderly, they especially benefit from accessible small parks. Green spaces combat asthma and childhood obesity, boost the property values of nearby homes and do not add strain to costly municipal services.

I live in south Lexington, where we face a decision to develop property off Old Schoolhouse Lane, along South Elkhorn Creek.

Much of the rest of the nation is talking about walkability, sustainability and community; about reconnecting folks with their watershed. But this city has decided that south Lexington will see no end of desperate, ugly development until the last traces of its charm, history and beauty are gone.

Opportunities for green amenities pass us by. Shockingly, the extensive widening of Harrodsburg Road did not include a bike lane or any attempt to connect us to the dedicated multiuse trail just south in Jessamine County.

There is an odd hypocrisy in working so hard to bring the Town Branch stream up to daylight, then to entomb the beautiful South Elkhorn Creek with more gray infrastructure, further polluting it and cutting it off from any chance of appreciation or relevance to the average family.

Why so little effort to make our waterway an attractive, vital and reachable feature?

In peril on the edge of Old Schoolhouse Lane, the famous 300-year-old bur oak should inspire us to remember the philanthropic values of our grandparents, to conserve a little remnant of our extraordinary landscape — mature walnut trees and a spring for wildlife, and a meadow that would be ideal for soccer.

With some courage and foresight, this could be a signature park, with an impressive view of the surrounding Elkhorn Valley.

Imagine: Walking and biking trails by a stream, a chance for serenity and a renewed sense of place that could be shared by many generations to come. It's not too late, south Lexington. Secure this land at a fair price. Honor this property and make it something good.

Dr. Vicki H. Holmberg of Lexington specializes in emergency medicine and consults on health and environmental issues.

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