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Park Progress

La Grange to break ground in 2021
on expansive downtown park project

The park is to be located at Main St., Second Ave.



LA GRANGE, Ky. (December 2020) – With the recent go-ahead from the La Grange City Council, the La Grange Springs Park committee hopes to have plans in place to break ground in April 2021. It will provide a variety of options for downtown recreation as well as a permanent home for the local Farmers’ Market.
“We are very excited about the park project and what it will add to downtown La Grange,” said La Grange Farmers’ Market & Artisan Market Manager Russ Morris. “The plan is it will be a permanent venue for the Farmers’ Market.”
The Farmers’ Market, which offers products May through October, had been setting up on the Oldham County Courthouse lawn on Saturdays. With the start of the courthouse renovation project looming near and this project not yet begun, “we will need to find another location.”

Photo provided

The Market Pavilion at the La Grange Springs Park would be a permanent home for the La Grange Farmers’ Market.


Despite the COVID-19 pandemic this year, “we were able to hold the Farmers’ Market May through October without any interruptions,” said Morris. “Although COVID-19 presented some challenges, we were rewarded with a successful market.”
The pavilion will be an open space so vendors will be required to provide their own tables, he said. Vendors setting up outside the pavilion will need to provide their own tables and tents.
The proposed multi-use La Grange Springs Park is located near the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue and is a project that has been in the works for several years. It would incorporate some city-owned properties, including the skate park, the city public parking lot and a spring. Public input has been sought to determine the most popular features for the park to include.
Ann Zimlich, chairperson of La Grange Springs Park Committee, previously stated that “the Farmers’ Market will be the primary user of the market pavilion. It will also be available for special events.”
“As with most small towns being challenged commercially, I feel the La Grange Springs Park will be a major contribution to the vitality of the City of La Grange and surrounding community,” Morris said.
The project will be broken down into three phases, said La Grange Mayor John Black. Phase I will consist of “a well-designed Farmers’ Market pavilion, which will allow different things to take place there.”

Morris


It will include seating areas, a promenade, children’s play area, splash pad, reconstruction of a road leading into the park, grassy play area and walking trails.
Phase II will add restrooms, an amphitheater and possibly a new skateboard park unless another location is found for the latter before this phase begins, said Black. Phase III will include a natural area with more trail systems so as “not to destroy the natural habitat.” Plans call for entering the park on its north side close to the railroad tracks and exiting on Yeager Avenue.
Black has taken a look at similar projects, such as a pavilion in Mt. Washington, Ky., and splash pads in Carrollton, Ky., and Clarksville, Ind.
In designing the park, “we’re gathering what we think of all the combinations that would be right for our town.”
He said he feels the City Council supports this project. “Everyone has been in agreement on the conceptual idea of what the park would include from the beginning.”
Phase I will cost $3.2 million. Black said there have been a number of discussions about the design, and “we are preparing at the next meeting for the second reading of an ordinance to authorize us to move forward with issuing a bond.” The bond would cover the initial cost of Phase I by using a reserve account, he added.
“The bond amount is needed to build Phase I,” he said. The park committee is concentrating on ways to fundraise to cover the costs of the additional phases, such as seeking out and writing different grant applications. Under consideration is Kentucky Tobacco Settlement funding that might aid in the Market Pavilion area since farm grown products will be sold there.
This area can also be used to hold events or concerts. A lot can be done there that will benefit “what people are looking for,” said Black. “It will be a social type area. And people can bike, trike and walk to the park; you don’t necessarily need to be in a car to get there.”
Sandie Fulks, executive director of the La Grange Ky., Main Street Program, said she thinks the park “will be a fantastic addition to our community. The goal is to build a multi-use facility that will be a source of pride for the community – something that our residents will enjoy and bring family and friends to when they visit.”
Black said the City Council believes now is a good time to tackle this project, even in the middle of a pandemic. At a 2 percent fixed 15-20 year loan, “there’s never been a better time to look in on (such a project) in terms of the actual cost,” said Black.
Fulks agrees that this is “the right time to be in the planning and beginning phases. Had the project been farther along it could have caused delays. But in light of 2020 and COVID-19, we all need something to look forward to.”
Black said he feels it is an area that will feature multi-generational use. A big plus is that it “will be visible from Main Street and the downtown area. People can come and do so many things.”
“The economic impact of this project will be a windfall for our community,” said Fulks. She sees it as a three-fold benefit: more visitors coming to town will generate more revenue; a multi-use facility will expand capabilities to host bigger and more diverse entertainment options; and it opens the door for additional business opportunities.
“We will be viewed as a city on the move, where fun and exciting things are happening.”
Overall, “we want to thank the City of La Grange, La Grange Main Street Program, Oldham County Fiscal Court and the community for their continued support of the La Grange Farmers’ Market & Artisans, and let them know it will continue next year, our 16th year anniversary,” said Morris.
This is a “pretty exciting project,” said Black. “We want the park to fit into the town’s character and history.”
This project, in addition to the upcoming courthouse renovation project, will “definitely be an exciting change to the face of downtown,” said Fulks. “It’s a way of honoring our community’s history and telling the story of who we are with historically relevant buildings like the courthouse, the History Center and so many others. It also adds new design elements and new entertainment areas to build on that tradition with a vibrant downtown area – full of experiences for all ages.”

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