Town Branch Fund announces agreement with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct environmental, water flow study

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Town Branch Fund on Thursday announced an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct $350,000 in studies to examine environmental and site conditions of the future park.

The Army Corps will be conducting a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment, Geotechnical Survey, Boundary Survey, and Topographic Survey on the site of the future Town Branch Park.  The Army Corps will provide $175,000 in technical assistance for the study. The Downtown Lexington Partnership is contributing $92,000 toward this work, and the remaining funds will come from the Town Branch Fund.

“We are fortunate to have the expertise of the federal government’s largest water resources development and management agency as we take this crucial next step in designing the park,” said Allison Lankford, executive director of Town Branch Fund. “We also appreciate the Downtown Lexington Partnership’s investment in this important step. The information gathered from these studies will be invaluable as we take the design from the conceptual phase to schematic design and, ultimately, construction. We will learn where and how to expose the Town Branch Creek, which will serve as a central water feature and a connection to Lexington’s founding. Other data will help shape the specific locations of other design and programming elements.”

The studies will:

  • Monitor water flow to provide guidance on the stream expansion, location for day lighting and restoration.
  • Gather topographical and geotechnical data to be used for the next phase of design.
  • Assess environmental conditions to plan for future park use and permitting.

“Providing technical assistance in the planning stages for Town Branch Park is an excellent example of our partnership with the Town Branch Fund and the City of Lexington,” said Andrew Reed, project manager at the Louisville District, USACE. “As water resource managers, we are enthusiastic for the opportunity to help reclaim Town Branch Creek’s historic value to the Lexington community.”

The studies are expected to be complete within the next 12 months.

“The Town Branch is everything – it’s the central social and ecological feature of the park design,” said Gena Wirth, the design principal of SCAPE. “To transform a buried and straightened stream into a living system that hosts aquatic life and is pleasant to be around, we need a better understanding of the site’s subsurface conditions and hydrology. The data collection and analysis provided by the corps will provide critical information that will help us determine the best pathway for the new creek alignment, its ideal restored width and the slopes of its edges. These studies will reveal critical information about the hidden hydrological asset of Town Branch and will shape the detailed design of the park.”

In addition to the work with the US Army Corps of Engineers, Town Branch Fund has begun monitoring water flow of Town Branch Creek at the site. This analysis is being conducted by Third Rock Consultants in Lexington. Third Rock installed a water level logger in mid-October and will gather initial data for six months. This information will also help plan for the stream restoration and expansion in the park.

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  • It is impressive how the Town Branch Commons Project coordinators able to raise money and garner essential resources for this program.

    It clearly demonstrates community leadership understands and values our waterways and recognizes what a contribution they provide to livability.

    Our hope is we can extend that sense of value to other waterways in the community as well, Hickman Creek, North and South Elkhorn, Cane Run and Wolf Run are treasures we don’t have to dig up to enjoy.

    We just have to keep from burying them in the first place. Lexington has a general policy not to bury existing streams, but that does not prevent developers from pushing around our city engineers and applying (To the Corps of Engineers) for permits to bury waterways to this day.

    It is important we support our water quality experts in their efforts to toe the line on this policy so that we don’t suffer the immediate impacts of flooding, erosion, loss of aquatic life that happens, and that future generations don’t have to spend millions to dig them back up again.

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