Lexington's parks and recreation department is set to initiate a parks master plan process along with efforts to study public pool issues. Area citizens will be asked what they would like to see in the way of future parks services. Newly hired Parks Director Monica Conrad says the master plan will allow for discussion about adding green space or making improvements to existing parks. "I think that's something the master plan will be addressing," Conrad said. "Is that something that citizens want or do we want to improve the current facilities that we have?
Following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling, Marcus Roland, left, and Scott Shive received the first marriage license issued to a same-sex couple in Lexington on Friday afternoon at the Fayette County Clerk's office.
Credit Janet Patton / Lexington Herald Leader
By mid-afternoon Friday, Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins says about 10 gay couples had visited his office seeking marriage license applications.
C-SPAN is in Lexington this week to conduct recordings for an upcoming summer history series. During an announcement Monday at city hall, C-Span coordinating producer Debbie Lamb said five to six segments about Lexington will air in July. "There's a lot of interesting older political stories like John C. Breckinridge,” said Lamb. “The horse breeding, the thoroughbred history there. That's unique to Lexington."
The Lexington Council has given first reading approval to a $323 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Mayor Jim Gray and his department heads are beginning their examination of council changes.
Lexington city leaders are looking at ways to ease traffic jams at two major office areas near the city's unique double cross-over diamond interchange. Afternoon congestion is a major issue at the Beaumont and Corporate Drive complexes on Harrodsburg Road. Traffic Engineering Director Dowell Hoskins-Squier isn't sure there will be a 'fix all' solution. "It's not gonna be a simple fix," says Hoskins-squirt.
Although Lexington's city council has made a number of changes to Mayor Jim Gray's proposed budget, two high profile projects remain intact. Much debate occurred during meetings Tuesday that ran just short of ten hours.
$22 million to refurbish the old Fayette County Courthouse and $10 million toward a downtown linear park remain in the spending plan.
The budget proposal before Lexington Council members includes a number of neighborhood park refurbishing projects. The mayor's plan calls for almost $2 million in improvements. General Services Commissioner Geoff Reed says parking lot developments and upgrades to playing courts could be completed within a year or so. "Some of the other projects that they're discussing like new bathrooms which involves construction, interaction with neighborhoods for the planning process of where folks want things, what they want them to look like which parks is very good at doing may take a little longe
In the coming fiscal year, Lexington city leaders are considering spending more than $757,000 on emergency shelter programs. The city's homelessness services director says that figure doesn't cover Lexington's ongoing need.
The future of the former People's Bank building located on Lexington's Harrodsburg Rd. is among the items up for debate in the city's budget. The mayor's financial plan includes $150,000 to help with the proposed move of the building, possibly to a site on High St. Planning Commissioner Derek Paulsen says once moved, the building could be used for community outreach. "A key thing for me was, are we just gonna move this and have it just be sitting there vacant?" said Paulsen.
Lexington city leaders are continuing efforts to boost ridership on Fayette County's mass transit system. New General Manager Carrie Butler says Lextran expects to welcome its five millionth customer next year. Butler addressed council last week. "We really would like to improve our travel time down some of the major corridors," said Butler. "That will allow us to operate our vehicles at the same level, but have them travel down the roadways faster."
Two multiple-inch snow events this past winter are causing Lexington city leaders to rethink snow removal strategies. The matter came before Council's Environmental Quality and Public Works Committee this week.
Public Works Commissioner David Holmes says, if Council members want to see more done in neighborhoods, there could be additional costs. "I think that's gonna depend on how deep into the neighborhoods the Council wants us to get and how quickly. We're working on the economics of that," said Holmes.
Lexington city leaders appear ready to move forward with plans to develop a linear park through the downtown area. Ideas for financing the $75 million Town Branch Commons project were discussed Tuesday at city hall. Council member Kevin Stinnett sees benefits to the plan, which includes water features and a bike-pedestrian trail. "I think this is one of those projects that comes along once in a lifetime for our city," Stinnett said. "It's transformational for our whole downtown and it will bring a new generation of people to downtown. It can be a destination."
Work is continuing on Lexington's $100 million Newtown Pike extension project. City leaders received an update last week on the traffic and neighborhood revitalization effort. Eventually, one portion of the road extension will lead into the entrance of the UK campus. Traffic engineer Andrew Grunwald says in time, the project will lessen congestion in the downtown area. "When you open up the entire project it reduces the through traffic, which has a significant impact," Grunwald said.
The city of Lexington is demanding Centre Point developers take necessary steps to fill in the large hole in the center of downtown. A written notice was delivered to the Webb Companies office Tuesday afternoon.
A group of Fayette County citizens has gotten a feel for the firefighter profession. Next week, 15 people will graduate from the Citizen's Fire Academy. Public Education Firefighter Kyle Branham says a number of tactical techniques are taught during the 11 week academy. "Engine operations where we get the flow hand lines and we also do ladder operations where they climb the ladder and flow water out the ladder and do search and rescue," said Branham.
Lexington city leaders are moving forward with plans to establish a downtown management district. Businesses and residents in the designated area would be facing additional taxation.
The idea of the management district is to bolster safety, cleanup, and landscaping efforts within the boundaries. Lexington Downtown Development Corporation President Drew Flemming is helping to lead the charge. "We'll have increased power washing, gum removal, graffiti removal, bottles and cans on a daily basis," said Flemming.
exington Park officials are working to form community partnerships to help with programming and facilities planning. The matter was discussed earlier this week during the city council's General Government and Social Services Committee meeting. Council member Amanda Mays-Bledsoe says park interests vary throughout Lexington. "Not every kid in certain neighborhoods need ballparks,” said Mays-Bledsoe. “They might need softball fields. They might need just green space for kickball or for Frisbee golf. So, I'm encouraging not just to improve what we already have."
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is proposing millions of dollars in new capital investments as part of his budget. The mayor's spending plan represents a three and a half percent increase over the current budget.
The newest member of Lexington's City Council is coming on board just in time to hear the mayor's budget address Tuesday.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has named James Brown to serve as council representative for the downtown first district. Brown says he brings level headed decision making to the council and a willingness to listen to other views. "When there's a call for leadership, I believe it's our responsibility to answer that call,” said Brown. “My network of friends, family and mentors have prepared me for the opportunity that I have today."
Officials at Lexington's historic Keeneland Racecourse are eager for the start of the spring meet, while also keeping an eye toward the fall. Post time for the first race of the three week event comes just after 1 pm Friday. Keeneland will also host the Breeders Cup Championships this October. Spokeswoman Amy Gregory says a new chalet will be in operation for the spring meet. "It's really a way that we can test run the facility,” said Gregory. “Give it a test, a trial run during the spring. Look at food operations, parking, layout inside the chalet."
Incoming Lexington Social Services Commissioner Chris Ford says the goal in his new position is to excel in existing programs, while further expanding in areas like drug abuse and violence intervention. Ford is giving up his seat on the Lexington Council to serve in the position.
A proposal to raise the minimum wage in Lexington got its first public hearing at city hall Tuesday afternoon. The plan would increase the city's minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 over the next three years. When the committee hearing ended, 19 people testified. April Taylor is in favor of raising the minimum wage. "We can support the pursuit of profit at all costs, or we can chose to care about women, children, and families," said Taylor.