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Mayor Linda Gorton today announced plans to purchase 30 acres on the Kentucky River, the only public access to the river in Fayette County.
“I have been working on this project since my first day in the Mayor’s Office, and I am thrilled that it’s finally happening,” Gorton said. “This will provide new opportunities for recreation in Lexington. It will be a beautiful new park. And those who love kayaks and canoes will have a place to get onto the river and travel 12 miles between locks.”
The city has signed an agreement of sale for the property with John Kelley, whose family has owned the property for decades. The property is located off Old Richmond Road, near the I-75 bridge into Madison County.
Mary Quinn Ramer, President of VisitLex, Lexington’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the new park will be an opportunity to establish a new kind of regional tourism with other river counties. “The growth in outdoor recreation and adventure tourism has been significant over the past two years,” Ramer said. “VisitLEX believes that the Kentucky River will become a major driver in recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike in our destination. VisitLEX is thrilled that this stunning piece of property on the banks of the Kentucky River will become a park open for all to enjoy.”
Monica Conrad, Lexington’s Director of Parks & Recreation, has been involved in the negotiations to purchase the property, which were delayed because of the pandemic. “We are grateful for the opportunity to purchase this property because it’s so valuable to the citizens,” Conrad said. “It offers increased natural areas, river access, and additional recreational and environmental education opportunities.”
The property will be paid for with Parks Acquisition Funds, fees developers pay to the city that are used specifically to acquire parks property. The cost is $1.16 million.
The sale must be approved by the Urban County Council.
Councilmember Kathy Plomin, who represents the riverfront area, said, “My husband and I have a kayak and can’t wait for our inaugural voyage down this beautiful venue of the Kentucky River. To Lexington, Kentucky, another feather in our cap!”
The City has not set an opening date for the property. “We have some work to do to get it ready for people to visit, but it will be worth the wait,” Gorton said.