Seeking serenity

Conservation park ‘The Glen’
moves closer to reality

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (October 2004) – For the last year, plans have been under way for a new conservation park in Oldham County. La Grange residents will have a park that will retain its natural elements, while serving as an outdoor learning center at the same time.
In August 2003, the city of La Grange acquired 11.53 acres several blocks from the downtown business district. The Peyton Samuel Head Family Trust awarded the city a $225,000 grant to purchase the land, now known as The Glen, from Oldham County Investments Inc.

Conservation Park plans
Plans for the new
conservation park in Oldham County.

Former deputy city clerk Darlene Rusnak presented the grant proposal for funding to the Head Family Trust. The park will be paid for over a period of three years. The first installment of $150,000 was disbursed in August 2003. Two more installments of $37, 050 are to follow.
The park can be entered by a walking path on Hwy. 53, or by a parking entrance near the corner of Maple Avenue and Monroe Street. This latter entrance will be handicap accessible, said Rusnak. This entrance is also a part of the La Grange historic district known as The Courts.
Residential development surrounds The Glen on three sides and a farm on the fourth, said Josuah Gedney, an architect with Scott-Klausing & Co. Scott-Klausing designed The Glen, which will become an urban nature reserve, said Gedney.
The Glen’s nicest feature is the opportunity it will provide for neighbors and children who don’t have a place to play, continued Gedney. While Oldham County has Walsh Park, Mundo Park and Wilborn Park, The Glen will bring “a walking park to a different quadrant of the city,” said Gedney.
When this opportunity was presented to the La Grange Parks Board, board members saw its potential right away. It contained “natural areas not found elsewhere in the city,” said La Grange Park Board Chairman Blake Haselton.
There will be no playground equipment or ball fields in The Glen. It will remain a passive conservation park and initial plans include the development of walking paths and learning stations, which will allow hikers and students to learn about the natural species and features found within The Glen. There will be one mile of paths, one half of these comprised of natural trails within the park.
One long-term goal is to build learning stations that will educate visitors as to the topography of The Glen, officials said. Terrain to be studied within The Glen includes wetlands, springs, the natural ecosystem of a pond, woods and a cave.
In designing The Glen, the parks board attempted to enhance the natural contours of the area. A natural bowl in one spot is perfect for an amphitheater where lectures can be held, said Gedney. In keeping with this idea, quarried stones or rustic logs will be used for benches.
While the city of La Grange will own The Glen, the La Grange Park Board will oversee it. Once completed, the park will be open from dawn to dusk, and the La Grange Police Department will patrol the area, said Gedney. Because it is a passive park, man-made amenities are restricted to avoid disturbing the natural habitat and features of the land.
Maximum use will be made of The Glen with the cultivation of native plants, grasses, trees and shrubs. It will be a sort of “nursery for native Kentucky plants,” said Gedney. These plants will eventually be transplanted throughout the rest of the Oldham County park system.
Two more public meetings will be held before a final plan will be submitted to the city, said Haselton. The Parks Board meets on the first Wednesday of the month at the Eagle Creek Golf Course in La Grange. Haselton said he encourages the public to attend these meetings.
Grant funding was aggressively pursued last year through the Recreational Trails Program of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. La Grange was turned down for a grant, so the city had to re-apply under guidelines stated in Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s Gold Program, said Mayor Elsie Carter. A new federally funded grant has been applied for, she said.
Results will be made known on Oct. 15, 2004, said Rusnak. Rusnak had also written two proposals for grants the city received for the 1880s Presbyterian Church, located behind the Oldham County History Center.
The Glen is in need of a good cleanup, but “we can’t do anything until we get the grant,” said Carter. It has even been suggested that The Glen be incorporated into the Greenways walk-bike trail, another ongoing preservation project in Oldham County. Carter said it has been proposed that Hwy. 53 be the corridor between the back-to-nature trail leading into the park and the Greenways project.
Rusnak said those involved hope the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will volunteer to assist with cleanup efforts. The Glen is a beautiful area, Rusnak said, and “we forget how beautiful an area it really is.”
Haselton said the Parks Board is negotiating to acquire a parcel of land next to The Glen in the Greenwood Commons subdivision. The Glen is bordered by three to five acres of undeveloped land that cannot be developed. Parks board members hope to acquire this land in exchange for maintaining this area that is not currently being maintained.
This is a project that will be completed in phases, said Haselton. He is confident that an architectural planning firm will be used. “The Oldham County Parks System is second to none,” said Haselton.

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