$900,000 to build water feature at Charles Young Park

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Charles Young Park will soon feature a permanent water play installation, thanks to a $900,000 collaborative grant from Blue Grass Community Foundation to fund design and construction.

Splash! will connect the Charles Young Park playground and the Town Branch Commons Trail, both currently under construction, to provide access to the city’s trail network from the park and create a welcoming, family-friendly space to gather and play for all.

 “Splash! is going to make quite a splash downtown,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “Charles Young Park is becoming a great area for family fun in walking distance for East End neighbors. Thank you to the Blue Grass Community Foundation, and to the neighbors who have helped us plan these improvements!” 

The Charles Young Park playground and Splash! project are rooted in community engagement, analysis and feedback.

Over two summers (2016 and 2017), with funding support from the Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund at Blue Grass Community Foundation, LFUCG Division of Parks and Recreation, Blue Grass Community Foundation and Lexington Downtown Development Authority partnered with Gehl Institute and other stakeholders to open a pop-up splash pad at nearby Northeastern Park, known as SplashJAM, to offer residents and visitors an intentionally-designed space to relax, stay cool and play.

The monumental success of the SplashJAM pop-up confirmed the need for a permanent water feature. 

“The Community Foundation has long been committed to equitable access to beautiful and engaging public green spaces,” said Lisa Adkins, president/CEO of Blue Grass Community Foundation. “It’s exciting to help make this project a reality after years of planning, resident engagement, piloting and evaluation. We are grateful to our charitable partners that made it possible.”

With an almost 60% increase in traffic, SplashJAM transformed Northeastern Park into an inviting park where people walked, stayed and connected with old friends and new.  

Splash! will inject the same energy into historic Charles Young Park.

Thoughtful design for the park, signage, public art and other features will incorporate the legacy of the park’s history, and of its namesake: Colonel Charles Young, a native Kentuckian who was the first African-American to rise to the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Army.

The Charles Young Center and the adjacent park were built in his honor nearly 100 years ago, and are now both listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

“Charles Young Park and Community Center have long been a staple of the historic East End Neighborhood, and a well-known local destination for Lexington’s African-American community,” Councilmember James Brown said. “With continued neighborhood engagement and community input, the recent investments in this park will not only benefit the families in this neighborhood, but also bring others across our city to share in the rich culture and history of Charles Young Park!”

“The Charles Young Center Advisory Board is committed, along with the city and various funding partners, to bringing a community-based and family-friendly recreational atmosphere to the center and neighborhood park,” said Charles Field, Charles Young Center Advisory Board chair.

An RFP for the design of the Splash! park has been issued, with submittals due by July 30.  

The target date for the playground ribbon-cutting is in late summer, with the Splash! groundbreaking set for spring of 2022. 

This project is made possible by the leadership of Blue Grass Community Foundation, with support from the following charitable donors and BGCF fundholders: Blue Grass Community Foundation, Community Ventures, J.M. Smucker Co., James Monroe Homes, James and Martha Monroe Charitable Fund at BGCF, and Knight Foundation Donor Advised Charitable Fund at BGCF.