Great cities have great parks: Gray shares vision for Town Branch Park
The E.E. Murry Family Foundation has donated $1 million to the Town Branch Park, a proposed 10-acre park adjacent to Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington.
The foundation was started by E.E. “Manny” Murry in 1974 and is now managed by grandson Wes Murry, the founding partner of Castle & Key Distillery between Versailles and Frankfort.
The $1 million donation adds to $5 million the park has received in pledges so far. That is still far shy of the $22 million fundraisers hope to raise in the next the three years.
The proposed 10-acre park includes a children’s play area, art installations, a dog park, trails and interactive water features. The city has said private funds will be used to build the park, which will be part of the Town Branch Commons trail. The trail will go through downtown and connect the city’s two longest trails, the Town Branch trail and the Legacy Trail.
The Town Branch Fund, established at the Blue Grass Community Foundation, has said its goal is to raise a total of $31 million for the construction and operation of the park, which will be free and open to the public.
“The Murrys’ generosity and commitment to Lexington will bring us one step closer to the goal of creating a world-class community gathering space for residents and visitors to enjoy active and restful green spaces in the heart of Lexington,” said Allison Lankford, executive director of Town Branch Fund.
The proposed park will include a creek walk close to the children’s area and will include educational programs. That walk will be called the Murry Family Creek Walk, according to a news release.
“My grandfather believed it was his duty and responsibility to be more than just a participant in his community. He desired to make lasting impacts — and did,” Wes Murry said. “I also believe in that philosophy. We seek out unique opportunities that have the stated purpose of permanently altering the trajectory of a need or cause.”
A timetable for construction of the park will depend on fundraising and completion of a proposed expansion and renovation of the Lexington Convention Center, which is attached to Rupp Arena.
The park would be located in what is now a parking lot behind Rupp Arena, between Jefferson Street and Oliver Lewis Way. That lot will likely be used as a staging area for construction of the convention center. Officials have said construction on the convention center likely won’t begin until later summer and will likely take 18 months to complete.