• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Big plans in the works for Midway parks

MIDWAY PARKS BOARD members John Holloway and Cecelia Gass show off some of the fruits of the labor of volunteers at Walter Bradley, Jr. Park: a sign marking the spot believed to have been a cemetery and the mulch-laid path of Cemetery Trail. (Photo by John McGary)

John Holloway and Cecelia Gass were discussing the Midway Parks Board’s plan for continued improvements and agreed that a theater in Walter Bradley Jr. Park was more of a long-term project. “Yes – well, not that long. I’m 62. I don’t have time for it to be too long-term,” Holloway said. Holloway and Gass are both members of the board, with Gass serving as chair. They were showing a visitor the fruits of hundreds of hours of work by volunteers and the city’s Public Works Department, which chipped and hauled off cleared brush. At the Jan. 17 Midway City Council meeting, Holloway presented a list of potential improvements planned this year to Walter Bradley Jr. Park and the adjacent dog park. Two days later, he said that the board hopes to spend $15,100 on the work – and Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he expects to put $17,000 in his proposed budget for the projects. Come spring, they’ll begin planting 150 dogwood trees paid for by a since-dissolved citizens’ advisory council at 15-feet intervals around the edge of the park. Finishing the Northside Drive entrance trail – also known as the Library Trail – will cost $2,500. A water spigot at the dog park would cost $600; a large fire pit in the center of the rock quarry area, $1,000; lights for the Library Trail and Lee’s Branch Bridge, $1,500; an informational kiosk near the Dog Park, $2,000; and showing family movies in the rock quarry area, $500. Holloway and Gass are both teachers. Gass taught science at the University of Kentucky before retiring, while Holloway still teaches design there. Asked what grade he’d have given Walter Bradley Jr. Park at the beginning of 2016, Holloway thought for a moment and said, “I would say more like a ‘D.’ A lot of stuff was just completely overgrown. You couldn’t get through on the trails…” he said. One year later? “I think we’re a solid ‘B’,” Holloway said, sparking a laugh and agreement from Gass. “We’re hoping in a couple of years to hit the ‘A-plus’ mark,” Holloway added. Vandegrift was so impressed by the work of the citizens’ advisory committee formed in the fall of 2015 that he issued proclamations in their names making last Oct. 18 their day in the city. By then, they’d created or cleared trails, two new entrances, and built a bridge over Lee’s Branch for $7,000. Vandegrift also dissolved the committee and formed a city Parks Board. Holloway and Gass are particularly proud of the bridge. “When we added that bridge across the creek, it united the two halves of Midway that were on opposite sides of the creek … Now you can just walk from one side to the other. And a lot of kids from town, they go up this way to get to school on the path. I see them all the time and they’re all excited about playing in the woods on the way to school and on the way home,” Holloway said. This year, Holloway hopes to add a $500 coat of sealer to the wooden bridge and build a wooden ramp on the north side of it for $1,500. The board also plans to spend $3,000 to continue removing invasive plant species like honeysuckle and winter creeper and $2,000 to refurbish the dog park fence, which would be painted “Keeneland green.” With the go-ahead from the city council, the Parks Board can spend money, but its members are unpaid, as are other volunteers who’ve already transformed Walter Bradley Jr. Park. Gass attributes their dedication to good old-fashioned community spirit. “I think there are a lot of people who are very interested in beautification in Kentucky, and they want it to be natural areas and they want to try to enhance native species, and they want to make their communities better,” Gass said. “We have an amazingly supportive mayor and city council …” Other plans include maps of the park at Midway City Hall and park entrances, more detailed signs, and further research into the small cemetery there where the bones of Confederate soldiers were laid to rest. “They did something that the Union forces didn’t like and were lined up and shot here where the rock quarry is,” Holloway said. “We’re trying to think in the long-term, we really are. We want this to be for generations to have a nice little park,” Gass said. Before they walked across the bridge to finish their stroll around the park, Holloway added, “Midway’s a town where one person can make a difference.”

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