Lexingtonians got a chance to get a closer look Tuesday night at plans for the extension of Town Branch Trail and Town Branch Commons, which Mayor Jim Gray called “a ribbon of the Bluegrass threading its way through downtown Lexington.”
More than 200 people attended a public meeting at the Thomas Hunt Morgan House on North Broadway, where new designs were unveiled for Town Branch Commons, which will run from Rupp Arena to Midland Avenue. They also got an update on plans to extend Town Branch Trail from Alexandria Drive toward downtown.
The plans for Town Branch Commons show wide sidewalks, a low wall to separate the pedestrian area from the bike lane, and lots of trees. SCAPE, a firm based in New York, won an international competition to design Town Branch Commons in 2013.
While some have said they expected water to be more prominently featured in the $40 million project, the reception Tuesday night was mostly positive.
“I am thrilled with what is happening,” Lynn Winter, who recently moved back to Lexington from San Francisco, said after hearing presentations from project leaders.
“It gets people out of cars and interacting with the neighborhood and nature,” she said. “You get people on the streets, then you get them interacting with the businesses. It makes it come alive.”
After presentations by those working on the project, attendees were invited to ask questions and make comments while looking at the plans rather than asking questions in front of an audience.
Leandro Braga said he thought some attendees would have preferred a format that offered “more open discussion of what’s going on.”
“It probably shut down some discussions that people were wanting to have publicly,” Braga said.
Braga, an environmental science student who works at McConnell Springs, said he was “a little wary of some of the aesthetics” in the design but found it interesting in terms of the big picture.
“The trend is toward this kind of development,” he said.
Once Town Branch Commons is completed in 2020, it will connect Town Branch Trail with the Legacy Trail, creating a continuous 22-mile route.
Bill Sanders said he’s looking forward to riding his recumbent tricycle on the new trails.
“I can’t wait for them to get it done,” he said.