Quest For Park Input Continues

Younger Voices Lacking In Planning For Jordans Point

The landscape architecture and land planning firm LPDA and Lexington’s planning director, Arne Glaeser, are working hard to formulate a plan for Jordans Point Park that pleases everyone. But based on last week’s meeting for public input, the admirable goal is proving just as hard as it sounds.

For one thing, accessing the opinions of younger Lexingtonians is not easy when they were, by and large, not present.

The meeting, held on Wednesday in the Waddell Elementary School cafeteria, gave attendees the chance to survey the two separate visions for improvements to Jordans Point, recently created by LPDA. The firm used results from its internet survey, an Oct. 9 public meeting, and its interviews with stakeholders when formulating the two concepts. Attendees could place stickers next to the individual items that they particularly liked, such as a mural on the bathroom or a kayak ramp, for example, before the meeting began. The idea was to zero in on one concept, or to take the most popular items from both concepts and create a new one. Either way, LPDA wanted to narrow down the current field of options.

“We know that you are a very involved community,” began Jessica Mauzy, a project manager from LPDA. “And we think that’s great.”

But, as Kary Smout pointed out, a high level of community involvement among Lexingtonians is not absolute. Rather, it seems to directly correlate with age.

“What’s the audience we’re trying to get to come to the park?” Smout asked. “Do you want me, with my gray hairs and with my kayak?” he asked. “Or are you trying to get the next generation to come to the park?”

He pointed out that, with a few exceptions, everyone else’s hair at the meeting – which drew 20-plus people - seemed to be graying as well.

Mauzy mentioned that, in the online survey, the options for children’s play areas ranked high, leading her to suspect that younger families had made their voices heard online rather than in person.

Bill Mechnick, the president of LPDA, piped up.

“The answer is that this is a park for everyone, for older people, for all ages, and all income levels - all people. We’re trying to get everybody here,” he said.

Molly McCluer suggested that the firm contact the PTA, and Council member Leslie Straughan asked whether or not they had considered an outdoor music venue in their design, implying that such a feature would be attractive to younger people. “We started to look at, is

“We started to look at, is there a place for an amphitheater, is there a place where we would have electrical, can we get food trucks to plug in, vendors, all that,” Mauzy said. “And what we really heard was not good.”

Mechnick added that most of the festivals in the city seemed to happen on Main Street anyway.

“What we understand is that performances are at Lime Kiln; markets and fairs are typically downtown. What is the potential in your-all’s perspective, for some sort of a fair [at Jordans Point]?” he asked.

“A fair or a circus, like it used to be!” someone yelled.

Straughan, ignoring the circus comment, said that, in her opinion, the potential was there.

“Twenty- or 30-year-olds want music, and we don’t have too many spots.” One thing that continually

One thing that continually emerged as a design challenge was a lack of parking spaces, not only in consideration of outdoor live music events, but also in reference to soccer games. Likewise, many park visitors themselves seemed to be a barrier, as they were not for expanded parking if it came at the expense of a sense of naturalness at Jordans Point.

“The traffic ought to be minimized in the body of the park; people who want to have the quietness and naturalness have been disturbed by traffic as it is now,” Leon Johenning said. “And I think I see two buttons there by the restroom mural,” he added. “Somebody that just now sobered up from Saturday night chose that.”

Others asserted that, while the naturalness of the park is important, the sense of history should take priority. Earlier in the meeting,

Earlier in the meeting, Mauzy conceded that any redesign plans for the park have to take a wide variety of interests into account.

“There’s a historical aspect, there’s a recreational aspect, there’s environmental, ecology, and then there’s economic development,” Mauzy said. “Interestingly, the economic development part, which we had seen a little of in the comments, has [become a priority] more recently, with a lot of comments saying, ‘Hey, really, no matter what we do we should be thinking about how this park can benefit the community of Lexington in ways that extend beyond Lexington.’”

Smout again made the case for finding further ways to solicit input from younger people that might use the park and more broadly invest in the Rockbridge area. “There are hundreds of

“There are hundreds of places in this country, many in Virginia, where they’ve really figured out how to get the younger generation to go ride their mountain bikes and take their canoes,” Smout said. “I’ve been arguing for years, in public settings and elsewhere - that if we would realize what our resources are for outdoor recreation, you wait and see how much money that could bring to Rockbridge County, which is not going to Rockbridge County now because it’s going somewhere else.”

After the meeting had concluded, Glaeser told The News-Gazette that, while the next step would have been for LPDA to refine what it’s heard and create a final concept, now it’s going to try to get more input on the two drafts.

“We’re going to reach out to other folks, who maybe aren’t as willing to attend these types of meetings,” Glaeser said. City Council member Chuck

City Council member Chuck Smith suggested that a version of the sticker exercise be made available online, and when asked about it the next day, at a City Council meeting, Glaeser said that he thought that would be possible.

The News-Gazette

The News-Gazette Corp.
P.O. Box 1153
Lexington, VA 24450
(540) 463-3113

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Latest articles