Life story

Telling the story of Young’s life, Lexington dives into history with Splash!

Charles Young Park water play area will tell the story of a pioneer soldier

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lexington is dipping into history with plans for Splash!, a water play area that will tell the story of Colonel Charles Young, the first African American to achieve the rank of colonel in the United States Army. Splash! will be located in Charles Young Park, downtown in the East End neighborhood (see design rendering Final_Site_PlanLR_plan_one(1)).

“We are bringing new life to Charles Young Park and the Community Center,” said Mayor Linda Gorton. “We have already built a new playground and resurfaced the basketball court. Town Branch Commons Trail will soon pass right by the park and Splash!, making it easier for neighbors to walk or bike to the facilities.

Splash! will be a major water feature and the first of its kind in downtown Lexington. It was designed for a wide variety of ages and abilities, with lots of input from neighbors, including neighborhood kids.

“The neighborhood children are participating in a project that is changing the face of this neighborhood,” said Jill Wilson, director of the William Wells Brown Community Center of Parks and Recreation. “One day they will proudly look back and say, I did this, I made a difference!”

Council member James Brown said: “Splash! will be cherished and appreciated by East End families because they helped design it. Similar to Charles Young Park’s new playground, every aspect of this water feature was imagined and developed by neighborhood residents through community engagement and partnership.

The water feature is designed to conceptually illustrate the life of Charles Young, while educating visitors about the rich cultural history of the East End neighborhood and the park, which opened during 1930s segregation and was the second space out of town public recreation area for African Americans.

Recently, the US Department of Defense awarded Young an honorary promotion to brigadier general. In 2016, the Charles Young Center was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Splash! will also take inspiration from the Bluegrass landscape, mimicking the karst, creeks and streams found in the rural area. Using recirculating water, the water play area will feature water bubbling up from rocks, flowing through water arches and a constant shallow stream surrounded by stepping stones and artificial turf mounds for play or s ‘Sit.

Plans call for the addition of trees to refresh the area and native plantings. And the project includes the renovation of the existing toilet building.

The cost of the privately funded project is $1.15 million, including a $900,000 grant from the Blue Grass Community Foundation with support from the following charitable donors and BGCF fundholders: Blue Grass Community Foundation, Community Ventures, JM Smucker Co., James and Martha Monroe Charitable Fund and the Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund.

“The Community Foundation has a deep and ongoing commitment to investing in parks and green space initiatives that make our community more equitable for everyone,” said Lisa Adkins, President and CEO of Blue Grass Community Foundation. “Creating engaging and safe water features in the East End and downtown Lexington has been a priority for BGCF for a decade, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome of the convening, collaboration and l help fundraising for Splash! at Charles Young Park.

Splash! also received a grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation’s Building Better Communities Grant, administered by the National Recreation and Park Association, for $250,000. “Kentucky American Water has been a strong supporter of Lexington Parks for decades because we know that, like a quality water service, parks play an important role in a community’s quality of life,” Nick said. Rowe, president of Kentucky American Water. “Thanks to funding provided in part by the American Water Charitable Foundation, Splash! at Charles Young Park will be a wonderful place for people of all ages, backgrounds, and physical abilities to enjoy water recreation while learning about conservation. and environmental stewardship in a safe and sustainable manner.


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