Introduction

In 2012, the city of Portland, Oregon published the Portland Plan, which “developed in response to some of Portland’s most pressing challenges, including income disparities, high unemployment, a low high school graduation rate and environmental concerns.”  In this document, the authors frame the concept of “complete neighborhoods.” According to the Portland Plan, “complete neighborhoods” represent the following, in summary:

An area where residents have safe and convenient access to goods and services they need on a daily or regular basis. This includes a range of housing options, grocery stores and other neighborhood-serving commercial services; quality public schools; public open spaces and recreational facilities; and access to frequent transit…

While this definition of “complete neighborhoods” is fairly common sense, it provides a framework around which to develop goals and ideals for how a neighborhood can best serve the community that lives there. For the purposes of this document, Neighborhood Services will be all necessary services that fit into the defined framework of a “complete neighborhood.”

Former Kroger on North Limestone - 1940’s; courtesy: Kentucky Digital Archive

This is not a new concept. Before widespread access to automobile transportation, Lexington’s North End had many of the services that would qualify it to be a “complete neighborhood.” It had easily accessible public transportation via the electric in-ground streetcar and bus system that was fed out of the SE Greyhound Line building. It had markets and grocery stores within walking distance - such as the Kroger on North Limestone. It had affordable eateries and diners like Mom’s Loudon Lunch or the Greyhound Cafe. It had easily accessible health care services and housing options. 

Interior, Kroger on North Limestone - 1940’s; courtesy: Kentucky Digital Archive

The North End of today retains some aspects of a complete neighborhood. It has a number of faith-based institutions spread throughout, and it has public schools that are within walking distance. It has green spaces for people to gather. However, there are many elements which both neighborhood residents and social service organizations identify as being absent from the area.

The following section details information regarding the attitudes and perception regarding the availability and quality of Neighborhood Services in the area.

In addition to the resident-identified neighborhood services, North Limestone CDC and a number of other organizations in the community identified additional services, many of which were not necessarily thought of as “services” by residents that attended the community engagement sessions. 

Due to funding restrictions, not all of these service types were studied, and it is recommended that in-depth studies of those without their own sections be conducted and added to the North Limestone Cultural Plan.

Resident-Identified Neighborhood Service Types

  • Arts & Culture
  • Businesses
    • Access to Food
    • Restaurants & Bars
    • Retail
  • Community & Social Services
  • Education
  • Faith-Based Institutions (can be combined with Community & Social Services)
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Public Space & Public Art

Other Neighborhood Services

  • Housing
  • Healthcare
  • Transportation

The Neighborhood Services which will be given their own section in this edition of the North Limestone Cultural Plan are:

  • Arts
  • Businesses
  • Access to Food (broken out from businesses)
  • Public Space  
    • Parks & Recreation
  • Public Art

The Neighborhood Services which should be further studied and then added to the North Limestone Cultural Plan in the near future are:

  • Housing
  • Community & Social Services
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Transportation

Most Used Neighborhood Services

According to an assessment of North End residents, the most frequently used service in the North End was the parks system. More details about the preferences of neighborhood residents and identified needs for these parks will be detailed in the Public Space section of this document.

A close second were the restaurants, grocery stores, and food access options, though they were limited. A few specific locations were mentioned including Al's Bar, Maria's Kitchen, and the Sav-A-Lot on North Broadway. Residents did distinguish these traditional business models from alternative economic models such as Fresh Stop Markets and Community Gardens. Issues involving food access in the North End of Lexington will be detailed further in the Food Access section of this document.

The next most frequently used neighborhood services were the retail businesses that exist in the neighborhood. Of these retail businesses, residents identified the Dollar Tree on North Broadway, and the Rite-Aid at the corner of Loudon and North Broadway as the most used. More about neighborhood businesses will be discussed in the Business section.

Also identified were city and social services, including mention of the School System, Police and Fire, as well as Waste Management.  Non-profit organizations were also lumped into this category, with several being specifically mentioned - the Dunbar Community Center on North Upper, Community Action Council, Common Good at Embrace Church, and the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, located just south of the North End.

Services in the North End

North End community members identified a significant number of services that were needed in the neighborhood. Responses broke down into three major categories: Continuing Education, Food Services, and Community Spaces.

In the Continuing Education category, residents emphasized the need for accessible secondary education and bilingual services. Residents wanted employment programs that could help individuals learn how to apply for jobs, create a resume, and train individuals for reentering the workforce. Also mentioned were financial literacy classes, including specific topics like home budgeting and business planning.  

To reiterate, there was a particular emphasis expressed forthe need for bilingual versions these services.

In the Food Services category, residents expressed a need for increased availability of fresh and healthy eating alternatives. This was expressed through three specific outlets: a farmers market, a better grocery store, and inexpensive healthy dining options. While much of this will be detailed in both the Food Access and the Business sections of this document, it is important to touch again upon the serious need for healthy, affordable, and accessible eating opportunities in the North End.

Lastly, there was a need for Community Spaces identified by residents. They expressed a strong need for a more centralized Community Center that could promote the commingling of different people within the neighborhood. They also expressed the need for more family facilities, particularly affordable daycare options and family-friendly community arts activities and music venues

Several other things were identified as needs by neighborhood residents. These included a dog park, additional public gathering space and green spaces, affordable fitness and health classes, healthcare and medical services, increased transportation options, venues to express the diversity in the neighborhood, and more children's activities. These aspects were not mentioned as frequently as the others listed previously.

Interestingly, a number of these services already exist within the neighborhood, particularly financial support services. Community Ventures, a nonprofit organization that is located on North Broadway, provides financial assistance programs that few in the neighborhood were aware of. Providing better on-the-ground connection between these already-existing services and the community members that need them is a simple and effective way to help fill some of the needs indicated by residents.

In the following sections of this document, more detail will be given on individual Neighborhood Services which were studied by the North Limestone CDC and partners on the North Limestone Cultural Plan.

Recommendations

 

1

Create a working group of residents, business owners, and social service organization representatives for addressing neighborhood services

2

Create a North End-specific framework and strategy to assist it in becoming a “complete neighborhood”

3

Complete studies of Housing, Community & Social Services, Education, Healthcare, and Transportation in the North End; Add these studies to the North Limestone Cultural Plan

4

Build better connections between already existing services and residents in the North End; ensure these services have adequate multilingual access