Introduction

While the concept of Public Space is deeply rooted in human culture, it has begun to see a resurgence as a key component of civic design in American cities through the New Urbanist movement, which grew as a reaction to the traditional auto-centric development patterns of the 1950s-1990s. 

Construction of New Circle Road. Courtesy: Lexington Herald-Leader

This time period in American urban design dispersed and compartmentalized communities into like-parts: suburbs, strip malls, shopping centers, and drive-thru shops. This compartmentalization also grouped race and class groups into like-parts, increasing economic segregation through a variety of means. “Urban renewal” projects demolished small-scale shops and historic buildings, replacing them with larger-scale apartment buildings and offices. Suburbanization saw the out-migration of the mostly white middle and upper classes from downtowns and “inner-ring” neighborhoods to planned neighborhoods outside urban centers. In Lexington, the KY-4 bypass (New Circle Road), which sought to make transportation by vehicle easier, allowed for suburbanization to take place at a much quicker pace. 

As populations with financial and political capital moved out of urban areas, much of the infrastructure of inner-cities and neighborhoods - sidewalks, parks, etc. - fell further and further into disrepair. People of differing socio-economic classes, who once lived within blocks of each other, suddenly were miles apart. Out in the suburbs, neighborhoods were being built solely with cost-efficiency, compartmentalization, and auto-centric design in mind - many planned completely without public space. These factors - along with inspirational writings of people like Jane Jacobs and financial incentives from the government to improve urban cores - contributed to the rise of the New Urbanist movement. 

New Urbanism began to creep into city design throughout the 1980s,  but the movement got a strong boost from the founding of the Congress for New Urbanism, a multi-disciplinary group of civic professionals that believed in the concepts of New Urbanism. The Charter of the New Urbanism begins with: “The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society’s built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge.”

With the growth of New Urbanist thinking in cities throughout the country, declining public spaces and infrastructure in downtowns, neighborhoods, and suburbs have come under increased scrutiny. Organizations, academic institutions, and philanthropy have all undertaken efforts to improvise new approaches to dealing with public space.  The Project for Public Spaces sprung up to advocate for better public space design. MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning began a series of studies to analyze the impacts of Public Spaces. Philanthropic foundations have begun funding public space improvements as a way of expediting and innovating upon the traditional government processes.

Triangle Park - Downtown Lexington. Courtesy: Triangle Park Foundation

Public Space’s function is to provide no-cost common space for people to exist and interact in. From parks to piazzas and sidewalks to alleyways, Public Space is now recognized as an essential component of any community. From a blog post on the The Project for Public Spaces:

“On the surface, it’s easy to look at great public places and see them as nothing more than well-designed physical locations. But beneath the surface, these places can be so much more. They are locations where community comes alive, where bonds among neighbors are strengthened and where a sense of belonging is fostered.” 

While this increase in Public Space has been positive, questions of welcomeness and ownership come up. A 2014 article in The Atlantic entitled “How Cities Use Design to Drive Homeless People Away” discussed how cities use public space infrastructure like park benches and sidewalks to as deterrents to discourage use of public space by the homeless for sleeping or loitering.

Increasingly, public space (including privately-owned Public Space) can be intentionally designed to cater to only a specific audience. This is expressed in the book “Rethinking Urban Parks: Public Space and Cultural Diversity”.  In it, the authors state that both unintentional and intentional“…exclusion practices can reduce the vitality and vibrancy of the space or reorganize it in such a way that only one kind of person - often a tourist or middle-class visitor - feels welcomed”.  A Huffington Post article from June 2016, goes even further: ‘In sum, public spaces have gradually transformed into areas that are less open, less democratic, less comfortable, less enjoyable and less “ours.”’ 

In an ideal world, good public space should be designed with and by the current, immediate community. This is no exception in the North End of Lexington, where accessible Public Space is at a minimum - consisting of parks, streets, sidewalks, some publicly-owned buildings, as well as privately-owned buildings and green spaces.

Castlewood Park

 

Castlewood Park, located in the center of the Loudon-Meadows subdivision just north of Loudon Avenue, is a 32-acre public park, and is one of the oldest in the city of Lexington.  The park is a small remnant of the family farm owned by the Hunts, mercantilists that made a fortune in the hemp and textile industry in 19th Century Lexington. The land was sold to the city of Lexington in the 1920s. Castlewood Park is currently surrounded on all four sides by residential properties built in the 1920s - 1950s.

Loudoun House - 1932. Courtesy: National Park Service

In the middle of the park sits the iconic Loudoun House. Designed by famed New York architect Alexander Jackson Davis, the Loudoun House was built in 1851 for Francis Key Hunt and is one of the largest and finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the state of Kentucky. The house cost around $40,000 to construct and is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building’s name came from Hunt’s wife’s favorite song, the Bells of Loudoun.

Loudoun House - 2015 courtesy: Jayoung Koo

The Loudoun House is home to the Lexington Art League, one of Lexington’s premiere visual arts organizations. Operated with the community in mind, the Art League’s gallery in the Loudoun House is open to the public during weekdays, and they also operate a summer program for neighborhood youth in partnership with the Castlewood Community Center, located directly behind the Loudoun House. The Loudoun House is also home to North Limestone MusicWorks. Both of these groups are profiled in the Arts section of this document.

Castlewood Park - Original Design courtesy: Kentucky Digital Library

Castlewood Park was originally designed as a sprawling, Victorian-inspired park, with varied recreational programming opportunities. Today’s Castlewood Park, seen on the right hand image, has several amenities amidst a vast greenspace, including a large aquatic center, a recently installed playground, five tennis courts, a basketball court, and three baseball fields. Almost all of these facilities are regularly occupied during summer months, according to a passive survey by the North Limestone CDC. The sole exception to that would be the tennis courts - rarely occupied - which were constructed during the Tennis Boom of the 1970s. 

Castlewood Park - Current Aerial Image courtesy: Google Maps

In a series of community walks and interviews, North End residents discussed what they value about Castlewood Park. The “bucolic” open spaces in the park, which allow for a variety of self-selected activities from pickup soccer to picnics, and the large, historic trees in the park were some of the main draws for residents to the park. Residents also mentioned the high-quailty playground equipment and sports facilities as being essential to the park - especially the aquatic center. The Loudoun House - both the architecture and the presence of the Lexington Art League - was also mentioned as a major asset to the park.

Residents, however, also detailed many things they would like to see improved in and around the park. Pedestrian access to the park was mentioned as being incredibly dangerous for children and families - especially coming from the direction of Arlington Elementary and Embrace Church. There is only one crosswalk to get across Bryan Ave for the entire quarter-mile stretch. Residents felt that the chained-down picnic tables and the lack of proper lighting made the park feel unsafe. Programming was also mentioned as a need for the park - specifically public, outdoor events that are free for the community were specifically mentioned. Residents identified the need for more trees in the park and better walkways as well.

Duncan Park

Duncan Park - 2015 courtesy: Jayoung Koo

On the southern side of the North End, historic Duncan Park sits atop a hilly area at the corner of North Limestone and Fifth Street. The overarching history of Duncan Park is similar to that of Castlewood Park: it started as a farm and out-lot of a wealthy family, a mansion was constructed on the site, and it eventually was sold to the city of Lexington - but the details of that history are much more rich. 

In 1795, William Morton purchased a 22 acre plot of land just north of the settlement of Lexington for one sterling shilling. Morton, an immigrant from England who was a successful mercantilist in Pennsylvania, operated a drug store at the corner of Main and Upper Streets. In 1810, Morton constructed his home on the lot, facing Mulberry Street (now North Limestone).

Morton died in 1836, and the house was then sold to Cassius Marcellus Clay. Clay, the son of Green Clay, the largest slave-holder in the west, was a cousin to Lexington’s famous Henry Clay. Cassius was a staunch and vocal abolitionist. He attended Transylvania University, located just a few blocks south, and Yale College - where he was inspired by William Lloyd Garrison’s anti-slavery movement. 

He served in the Kentucky House of Representatives, and, in 1845, Cassius Clay began printing an anti-slavery newspaper called The True American. One of the most hated individuals in Kentucky, Clay would survive an assassination attempt during a debate with a pro-slavery group. In 1850, Clay sold the home to Dr. Lloyd Warfield, who subdivided it to create what is now the Martin Luther King neighborhood. 

Herman Heaton Clay, the ancestor of a slave owned by the Clay family, named his son after Cassius Clay, who would in turn name his son Cassius M. Clay Jr. This Cassius later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, saying that Cassius Clay was his “slave name”.

The True American - printed by Cassius M Clay courtesy: KY Digital Archive

Eventually, the house and surrounding acreage ended up as the property of Henry T. Duncan - a two-term mayor of Lexington and co-founder of the Lexington Daily Press (which eventually became the Lexington Herald-Leader). The five-acre area surrounding the house became a public park in 1912, designed by the firm of Frederick Olmsted - who also designed NYC’s Central Park. 

In 1915, Duncan Park was the site of a significant women’s suffrage demonstration. From 1916 - 1956, Duncan Park was part of Lexington’s segregated parks system, only admitting whites to the park, with Douglass Park serving as its counterpart for the black community. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s “white-flight” of white, middle class residents to the suburbs, the neighborhood saw a significant increase in African-American residents, yet the park still remained segregated. 

In the 1970s a 200-person civil rights demonstration took place in Duncan Park in protest of the closing of inner-city schools. In the 1980s and 1990s the park was largely neglected by the city of Lexington, as it was said to be a hot-bed of crime for the neighborhood. Although the city of Lexington did create a Master Plan for Duncan Park in the early 1990s, the only aspect of this plan that was executed was the closing of the swimming pool in Duncan Park in 1995, and its demolition in 2000.

Duncan Park viewed from MLK courtesy: Jayoung Koo

Currently, Duncan Park houses a basketball court and a small playground. Inside the Morton House is The Nest Center for Women, Children, and Families. Due to the original siting of the mansion, Duncan Park looks largely like the private estate that it once was. The Morton House blocks street view of the playground from North Limestone, a steel fence runs along Fifth Street, and the Northern edge of the park is closed off by the backyards of houses on Rand Ave. Together, these barriers give Duncan Park a very “closed off” feel from any approach except North Martin Luther King Drive.

In a series of community engagement sessions, residents mentioned several aspects of Duncan Park that made it feel welcoming to them. Similar to Castlewood, residents expressed that the large, historic trees in Duncan Park were one of their favorite, defining characteristics. In addition to the trees, residents said that the recreational activities in the park - the playground and the basketball courts - were very important to have in the neighborhood. Many also mentioned that the location and easy access made the park special to residents that could walk to it.  

There were more aspects that residents wanted improved in Duncan Park than Castlewood Park. Residents were very frustrated by the removal of benches and trash cans from the park - their removal made it much more difficult to have family gatherings and generally spend time in the park. Alongside the benches and trash cans, residents mentioned that the park needs more upgraded drinking fountains, and permanent brick-and-mortar bathroom facility. The portable toilet in the park made residents feel unsafe, and is occasionally overturned. One of the largest needs mentioned by residents was for additional basketball facilities.

Residents said that from the North Limestone side, Duncan Park seems very inaccessible. Residents mentioned potential ideas which could better activate the “front” of Duncan Park - including public art, colorful flags, and information about the history of the park. Interestingly, many also mentioned that the deteriorating columns at the front of the park made the park look uncared for. Similar to Castlewood Park, the picnic table (there is only one) is chained to a tree - instantly implying that the park is unsafe.

Streets & Sidewalks

Shopping on North Limestone - 1920; courtesy: Kentucky Digital Library

Streets and sidewalks are the most ubiquitous and universal public spaces in a community. While we don’t necessarily think of these areas as “Public Space,” they are publicly-owned and maintained through tax dollars. The most frequently “touched” Public Spaces, streets and sidewalks are incredibly connected to our perception of a place. Many studies also indicate that the quality of streets and sidewalks have wide-ranging implications across the health spectrum.

The evolution of streets and sidewalks are interestingly connected with other aspects of community development. 

Pre-automobile, streets and sidewalks were an important place of interaction for people of all backgrounds. As the car became more and more central to middle-class American culture - alongside the spread of suburbanization - streets began to evolve into quick-moving streams to move people around as quickly as possible. This focus on efficiency and quickness caused governments to raise speed limits, widen roads, and turn roads into one-way streets. All of this quick-paced traffic had a dramatic impact on the pedestrian accessibility of sidewalks. While newly-developed suburbs were mostly slower roads that were “fed into” by larger highways and wider city roads, already existing neighborhoods - like the North End - saw their main streets become “pass-throughs” for people traveling into and out of downtown. 

None of this was an accident. The Project for Public Spaces puts its best: “Traffic and road capacity are not the inevitable result of growth. They are the product of very deliberate choices that have been made to shape our communities around the private automobile.” These intentional decisions, made by a select few traffic planners and city officials, directly impact the lives of neighbors, and the health of communities. 

Research in countries across the world show links between increases in traffic and a decline in physical health among residents, as well as a reduction in social cohesion. A study in Bristol UK, which mirrored the 1971 studies of Donald Appleyard, showed that “motor vehicle traffic is responsible for a considerable deterioration of residential community, measured by the average number of social contacts, extent of perceived ‘home territory,’ and reported street-based social activity. Charles Montgomery, in his book Happy City, discusses one of many common sense reasons that this could be the case - noise. “…traffic’s social corrosion also stems from the noise it produces. We are less likely to talk to one another when it is noisy. We end conversations sooner. We are more likely to disagree, to become agitated, and to fight with the people we are talking to.” 

While the physical and social impacts of streets are enormous, that is only just half of the equation. Sidewalks should be of equal importance as streets in an urban context, yet often they are an afterthought. In Lexington, with the exception of downtown proper, sidewalk care is on the homeowner or property owner to take care of. In many low-to-moderate income communities like the North End, many residents do not have excess income to make necessary sidewalk repairs, allowing sidewalks to fall into disrepair. 

Sidewalk Conditions on North Limestone; courtesy: Kris Nonn

This causes an impact not just on the obvious physical utilitarianism -  pedestrian accessibility - but also on a more emotional level.  A study in The Journal of Civil Engineering and Urbanism, authored in 2015, suggests that there is a strong link between the design of urban sidewalks and a psychological sense of security in a place- implying that where sidewalks are quality and maintained, people are happier, healthier, and safer.

There is a national movement to reclaim the streets from automobiles and instead reconfigure streets and sidewalks to be designed for who they were made for - people. Brought into the national spotlight by Jeff Speck’s Walkable City, the concept of designing neighborhoods around walkability is not a new concept - it is taking places back to what they once were. Through relatively simple steps - slower traffic speeds, broader sidewalks, curb bump-outs, dedicated bike lanes - cities and neighborhoods are making real progress toward several goals of community betterment: lower obesity and diabetes rates, lower noise and air pollution levels, and increases in the size of residents’ social networks.

In the North End of Lexington, the sidewalks and streets are inadequate. The main artery of the neighborhood - North Limestone Street - is currently designed as an one-way street exiting Lexington from downtown. Once a small two way street that fit with the residential characteristics, it is now a multi-lane, one-way street heading out of town. This one-way street collides with itself at the intersection of Seventh Street, where it turns back into a two-way street. Resurfaced several times, North Limestone’s street level is at times even with the sidewalk, giving no sense of separation between sidewalk and road.

North Limestone - one of the first two streets in Lexington -  gets even worse once it crosses Loudon Ave. North of Loudon, which was county territory before Lexington’s city-county merger in the 1970s, is in worse shape than the southern stretch due to the lack of maintenance done by the county for a significant period of time. There are numerous flooding and stormwater issues, and there are even several places where there is no sidewalk whatsoever.

Where the Sidewalk Ends on West Loudon Ave. courtesy: Google Maps

Other places in the North End are not much better. West Loudon Ave. between North Broadway and North Limestone is completely missing sidewalks on the south side of the street, and is missing them in parts as well on the north side. This is one of the most high-traffic pedestrian strips in the neighborhood, frequently seeing large groups walking to the LexTran bus stop or the Hope Center further down Loudon Ave. North Broadway, a main auto thoroughfare through the city, only has two pedestrian crossings along the mile strip north of Loudon Ave., yet it is lined on both sides with single-family residential housing in many parts.

Missing Sidewalk on North Limestone and Paris Ave. courtesy: Google Maps

Residents, when asked about their opinions regarding sidewalks and streets in the North End, did not have many positive things to say. Aside from occasional positive comments regarding what you could see while traveling on the sidewalks, but generally, residents were more displeased with them than pleased - with most positive comments being simply that they existed.

Residents identified several key issues regarding sidewalk and street infrastructure in the North End. Specifically, there was a need for sidewalks to be present where they are currently absent. Of the sidewalks that do exist, residents say that they are frequently too narrow, and are in dramatic states of disrepair. This disrepair includes crumbling concrete, gaps in the concrete, lack of curb ramps at crosswalks, and vertically uneven concrete panels. 

This state of disrepair in sidewalk infrastructure presents several issues for users. Besides the obvious tripping hazards for walking, it creates several extreme disadvantages for the physically impaired. There are several places in the North End where the sidewalks are in such disrepair that individuals can frequently be seen steering their wheelchairs down the roadway, choosing to travel in traffic over the challenges of navigating sidewalk obstacles. This condition also presents several obvious issues for those that are visually impaired. 

Other infrastructure issues were also identified by residents as major problems in the North End. The speed of auto traffic and its proximity to the sidewalk was noted by several respondents, who complained not just about the dangers of the situation, but also the noise and smells that it brings into the neighborhood. They also mentioned the need for repairing curbs and creating new crosswalks to make crossing the street easier - particularly in areas that were near public amenities (parks, schools, etc.), as well as additional trash cans to cut down on the litter issues.

Community Gardens

North Pole Community Garden; courtesy: Kris Nonn

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Community Practice, around 23% of land in American cities lies vacant. Community Gardens are one of the emergent trends in transforming these vacant lots into viable Public Spaces in cities and towns across the country. Since 2009, there has been a 19% increase in the prevalence of Community Gardens nationally.  

Numerous benefits have been noted regarding the presence of Community Gardens in neighborhoods. A study in the Journal of Public Health showed a link between Community Gardens and measurable improvements in the physical health of participants in Community Gardening (specifically improvementsin their Body Mass Index), as well as their mental health - through improved self-esteem and mood. Community Gardens also provide “opportunities for constructive activities, contributions to the community, relationship and interpersonal skill development, informal social control, and exploring cognitive and behavioral competence.” They also have significant positive impacts on nutrition and food access in communities with little access to fresh and healthy produce.

Community Gardens can also have significant economic impacts. A study of community gardens in New York City shows that they can improve property values on surrounding lots by as much as 9.4% in less than five years and an increase in tax revenues of $500,000 per garden over a 20 year period.  While there are some issues with this study’s scale - it focuses solely on one of the largest and most expensive cities in the country - it does demonstrate that there is a potential economic incentive for the installation of Community Gardens. 

This economic benefit is not necessarily entirely positive. A 2014 article in The New Yorker by Lauren Markham titled “Gentrification and the Urban Garden” discusses the tension between the positive aspects that Community Gardens have and the potential for those positive aspects to be co-opted by property developers as a tactic to improve the aesthetics (and property values) of the surrounding area.

It is unclear if the referenced economic impacts of Community Gardens play out in communities at the scale of Lexington’s North End due to differences in the scale and pace of property development.

While these economic impacts may depend on the scale of property development - the physical, mental, and community health benefits seem less likely to depend on the external factors in the same way as the economic impacts. 

In the North End, there are two prominent Community Gardens - the North Pole Community Garden and the New Beginnings Castlewood Community Garden. Both of these gardens are owned by non-profit organizations (North Pole by the North Limestone CDC, and Castlewood by New Beginnings Church), and are maintained and operated by the non-profit Seedleaf. Both are free and open to the community. 

These spaces serve many of the same functions as Community Gardens detailed above. They provide locations for neighbors to come together to grow and celebrate food. However, they are not without their issues. There is a strong need for more dedicated funding streams for infrastructure and maintenance costs for the gardens. In addition to this, legislation legalizing the status of Community Gardens is needed. This could allow Community Gardens to have proper signage, sell produce and goods, and any other specific needs not met by the residential zoning ordinances found in most municipalities.

Other reccomendations for North End Community Gardens include more signage near the street explaining the purpose of the garden, and signage throughout the garden. Also, more garden hours —times when the garden is staffed by somebody who can give a quick tour and orientation— as well as person-to-person visits with neighbors would be advisable to make the gardens more inclusive and actuated. Having events onsite, such as trainings or community grill-outs, would also help people feel more welcome.

Other Public Spaces

 

Brucetown Park

Brucetown Park; courtesy: Google Maps

Situated between 7th Street, Florida Street, and the RJ Corman Railroad tracks sits Brucetown Park. Part of the historic Brucetown neighborhood (which was profiled in the History section of this document on pages 23 & 24), Brucetown Park is a small greenspace that also contains a playground set, a basketball court, and a couple of benches. Brucetown Park is in relatively good repair, but is in need of additional lighting.

Privately Owned Public Spaces

There are several privately-owned public spaces in the North End of Lexington that are intended to function as Public Space. While privately owned public space is nothing new, it is part of a growing trend of privatizing Public Spaces. In New York City, the NYC Planning Department has specific requirements for privately owned public spaces (POPS) that are a part of new development projects. 

NYC Planning - POPS Regulations
All Privately Owned Public Spaces must be:

  1. Open and inviting at the sidewalk - A public plaza must be visually interesting and easily seen from the street—evidence that it is an open, public space. Seating must be easily visible with generous paths leading into the plaza.
  2. Accessible -  A public plaza should generally be located at the same level as the adjoining public sidewalk to encourage easy access by all passersby. Pedestrian circulation is encouraged by a pleasant and rational layout of paths and open space.
  3. Quality seating space - A public plaza must accommodate a variety of well-designed, comfortable seating for small groups and individuals, which may include fixed and movable chairs, benches and broad low walls.
  4. A sense of safety and security - A public plaza must be oriented to, and visibly connected to the street to avoid any sense of isolation. It must be well-lit and contain easily accessible paths.

In the North End, POPSinclude “pocket parks” like the one located on the corner of North Upper Street and Sixth Street and outdoor seating areas for businesses like Broomwagon Bikes + Coffee’s “courtyard” area. While the majority of these spaces in the neighborhood are positive assets, it is important for future projects that include Privately Owned Public Space to keep the community in mind when designing the space.  The above listed NYC planning rules are a good starting place for best practices for designing and installing POPS.

Opportunities for Improved Public Spaces

While there are significant improvements that can be made to the Public Spaces that already exist in the North End, there is also potential to create brand new Public Spaces that can be designed from the ground-up by and for neighborhood residents. Later in this section is a list of spaces that could serve a higher and better use than they currently do, as determined by surveys done by the North Limestone CDC. Many of these are inefficient spaces that are currently underutilized and can be repurposed using a trial-and-error process called tactical urbanism.

Better Block Framework; courtesy: Better Block Foundation

Tactical Urbanism is a term for the deployment of low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment to improve spaces for community use. While the concept of Tactical Urbanism is very old - people have been setting up “pop-up” shops on streets for centuries, it has become increasingly popular since Janette Sadik-Khan, the former transportation commissioner of New York City, used lawn chairs and umbrellas to transform Times Square. It has also been broadly popularized through initiatives like the Better Block Project, which also uses temporary street-paint, planters, and trees to make better public spaces temporarily.

An executed Better Block Project; courtesy: Better Block Foundation

Tactical urbanism and similar temporary projects allow communities to try out multiple changes at a relatively low cost before making any permanent alterations to the public infrastructure of their neighborhood.

The following are five locations where this approach could be deployed to make improvements to the neighborhood’s public space.


Location 1: Bryan Avenue

The 700 Block of Bryan Ave., which connects North Limestone St. and Loudon Ave. in a triangle, serves no real purpose aside from access to the old parachute factory (see page 33) and rear access to the few houses that are on Loudon Ave. Moving further up Bryan Ave., the Loudon/Bryan multi-way intersection is incredibly dangerous - it has no crosswalks on any side, and the eastbound Loudon Ave does not stop, while all other sides do. Another problem lies at the Bryan/Castlewood/Maple multi-way intersection, where the road connects to the park and redirects, eventually turning into Bryan Station Road.

This area could be substantially reworked for the benefit of North End residents. Community members’ opinions could be solicited to determine a better use of the 700 block of Bryan Ave. Each of the intersections between Loudon and Castlewood should be better oriented for pedestrians, complete with crosswalks and pedestrian signals, due to the high traffic volume on all three streets.


Location 2: Castlewood Park Tennis Courts

The tennis courts are one of the few underutilized parts of Castlewood Park. While there are occasional players on the tennis courts, the five courts are never full. More frequently, residents can be seen practicing bicycle riding or playing pickup street soccer on them, inventing new uses for this underutilized space. Additionally, Castlewood Park’s sole basketball court is almost always full, suggesting that additional basketball courts are needed.

In summer of 2016, Common Good CDC, North Limestone CDC, 1st District CM James Brown, and Lexington’s Division of Parks and Recreation began a collaboration on a pilot project to transform two of the tennis courts in Castlewood Park into street soccer courts. The project was funded through the North Limestone CDC as a test project for the implementation of the goals of the North Limestone Cultural Plan. The project will inform both the need for a permanent soccer facility in the North End, as well as the degree to which the tennis courts can be downsized. 

This pilot project is a perfect demonstration of the trial-and-error approach that is recommended for all of the Public Space improvement projects in the North End.


Location 3: North Broadway at the Whitaker Bank Ballpark

The large parking lot on North Broadway between Fairlawn and Withers appears to not be used on any regular basis, aside from potential overflow parking from the Whitaker Bank Ballpark lot across the street. Occasionally the lot will also be used for food trucks in the area to set up and vend, or for pop-up markets. This lot sits along the most trafficked road in the North End, and is in between two residential streets - Fairlawn and Withers. 

This lot could be repurposed for a multitude of uses - including building out more infrastructure around the food trucks that already set up in the lot occasionally. It is recommended that significant engagement be done with the neighbors on Fairlawn Avenue and Withers Avenue before starting any sort of Pilot Projects.


Location 4: North Limestone Street - 700 block

The 700 block of North Limestone has a number of empty spaces that could be filled through temporary installations and projects on three sites. The grassy lot on the corner of York Street and North Limestone was occupied formerly by a duplex-home that was demolished. Now vacant, the lot occasionally is home to the Art on the Move mobile art education trailer, though it is never open there. The second site is the Kentucky Utilities fenceline along North Limestone. Directly behind the fence a collection of transformers and other electrical equipment is stored. The third site in this area is a vacant green space situated between a residential structure and the railroad tracks at the intersection of North Limestone and Bryan Ave. 

Any or all of these sites would be perfect locations for Pilot Projects to improve the North Limestone corridor, but all would require partnering with the private property owners to make them possible.


Location 5: North Limestone Street - 600 block

The fifth location for potential Public Space improvement projects is a set of two spaces in the area of Sixth and North Limestone. Sixth and Limestone is one of the busiest areas of the North End - with people going in and out of North Lime Coffee and Donuts, Arcadium, Al’s Bar, Cutting Edge, Metro PCS, and Progress Market as well as students attending the STEAM Academy. All of these places serve different clientele, making these public space interventions ideal candidates to promote common space for the entire community.

The grass lot location on North Limestone sits in between Progress Market and a residential house. This location would be a perfect option to create an intervention that is designed in cooperation with the area business community and residential neighbors. An even more interesting opportunity lies in the second space, located in the field immediately next to the STEAM Academy. The location and ownership of the property (it is owned by Fayette County Public Schools) immediately makes this space a great partnership opportunity with the STEAM Academy.

Reccomendations

 

Castlewood Park

1

Improve Pedestrian Access to Castlewood Park - particularly access across Bryan Avenue, and the intersections at Bryan Avenue/Castlewood Drive/Maple Street

2

Encourage the installation of more seating, benches, trash cans, and lighting

3

Work with other organizations to help program more outdoor events and family-friendly gatherings in the Park

4

Work with neighborhood organizations to plant more trees in Castlewood Park

5

Ensure all trees in Castlewood Park are properly mulched and maintained


Duncan Park

6

Work with LFUCG Division of Parks & Recreation to reinstall benches, tables, trash cans, update the water fountains, and install new lighting throughout the park

7

Work with LFUCG Division of Parks & Recreation to create a feasibility plan for installing brick-and-mortar bathroom facilities

8

Work with the Nest and area arts organizations to help program the North Limestone side of the park to make it more accessible and inviting

9

Work with Martin Luther King Neighborhood Association to encourage more programming and events in the park on a more consistent basis

10

Advocate for funding to provide better maintenance of Duncan Park basketball courts


Streets and Sidewalks

11

Create a full survey of streets, sidewalks, and intersections that are in need of repair, ranked in priority order of need

12

Advocate for further reductions in speed limits in the North End

13

Advocate for turning North Limestone into a completely two-way street to reduce the speed of traffic and allow greater ease of transportation

14

Advocate for the installation of new public trash cans on streets throughout the North End

15

Advocate for street reconfiguration to include separated bike lanes and high-quality sidewalks, planted buffers and street trees where space allows

16

Partner with LFUCG to enhance / supplement / advertise the Sidewalk Reconstruction Assistance program


Community Gardens

17

Advocate for the creation of a new type of Code of Ordinance which allows for greater usage of Community Gardens, to be applied to a wide range of zoning classifications

18

Work with Seedleaf and other Community Gardening organizations to complete any necessary repairs or expansions in infrastructure for Community Gardens in the North End.

19

Determine, advocate for, and secure dedicated funding streams for Community Garden maintenance and operation.


Other Public Spaces

20

Work with LFUCG Division of Parks and Recreation to provide more lighting in Brucetown Park

21

Work with the residents of Brucetown neighborhood to determine further needs and issues with Brucetown Park.

22

Work with developers and private property owners to encourage any new Privately Owned Public Space to comply with the principles of the NYC Division of Planning’s POPS guidelines.


Opportunities for Improved Public Spaces

23

Determine, advocate for, and secure funding streams for public space interventions in the North End of Lexington.

24

Work with Bryan Ave. residents, business owners, and employees as well as the LFUCG Division of Planning to determine the potential of creating public space interventions on and along Bryan Avenue

25

Evaluate the Castlewood Street Soccer Court Pilot Project to determine if future a permanent facility for street soccer is required and assess the demand for tennis courts in the park.

26

Discuss the opportunity of a public space intervention with the property owner of the North Broadway parking lot; if successful, work with residents on Withers and Fairlawn to determine highest and best use, as well as the steps to test that use.

27

Work with Kentucky Utilities and North Limestone property owners to determine if the public space interventions are possible for their spaces, then engage with 700 block of North Limestone residents, business owners and employees about what is needed in those spaces.

28

Work with STEAM Academy to do engagement and project design for Sixth and North Limestone public space interventions.