LA Extension Archive

LA Extension Archive

UKLA Extension Archive

Walkability header text

Warsaw Walkability Assessment and Trail System Planning

2016-2017, Summer Internship, 10 Weeks, 4 Students

The Department of Landscape Architecture (UKLA) and the CEDIK Community Design Extension Program facilitated and collaborated with the Gallatin County Collaboration for Better Health and Safety (hereinafter Gallatin Health Collaboration) from Summer 2016 to Spring 2017. The Family and Consumer Science (FCS) extension agent in Gallatin County, who is also part of the Gallatin Health Collaboration, was the key community contact for the walkability assessment as well as the trail system planning and design project which also included Riverside Park.

Gallatin Health Collaboration is a group advocating ways for people to become healthier while living and working in Gallatin County. The group has invested in a Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) process to assess their community in regard to improving the health and safety issues impacting the community. As part of the Community Health Improvement Plan, this walkability/trail project focused on increasing opportunities for physical activity in Warsaw, KY. Although Warsaw is the largest city in Gallatin County, it lacks an area for people to walk safely and participate in more physical activities within a connected system. This project aimed to identify and assess Warsaw’s walkable environment and propose walking routes of varied lengths throughout the city, primarily depending on utilizing existing infrastructure. The design research team (including three undergraduate UKLA students) assessed half of Warsaw’s sidewalk system and facilitated a community design workshop where the team facilitated activities to engage participants in identifying existing travel behaviors, foot traffic and potential wayfinding planning/design ideas for public and open spaces in Warsaw. The team trained the trainer who then led community volunteers to assess the other half of the city’s sidewalk system and then inform the design process through a series of feedback mechanisms.

Ultimately, the UKLA/CEDIK community design team provided a range of short to long walking routes that connected different areas of the community and for which the community group can further implement programs and directional/educational wayfinding features. For the short-term objective, the team proposed a walking route in Riverside Park which is expected to be accomplished in 2017. The long-term objective is to further enhance/improve the existing sidewalk conditions, and when possible seek funds to fill in and connect gaps in the sidewalk system and make it more effective and efficient for residents and visitors alike to engage in activities to improve their health and wellness.

Initial funding for this project has been supported by a Skyward Northern Kentucky LiveWell Jumpstart Grant with assistance from the Three Rivers Health District and the Gallatin County Health Collaboration. Near the end of this project, the Gallatin Health Collaboration also successfully secured $15,000 to implement an initial part of the walking trail in Riverside Park. During the final community meeting, which included the mayor and other city officials, discussion focused on strategizing ways to finish the project and continue moving the community forward.

North Limestone Public Spaces and Art

2015, 8 Weeks, 9 Students

Outcomes from Radical Walking greatly informed NoLi in regards to what future generations seek in the public spaces to promote a stronger sense of place for the community as a whole. Their ideas and inputs helped inform UKLA undergraduate students explore and reflect physical design ideas in the Fall of 2015. The findings were reflected in NoLi’s Cultural Plan for further development of creative placemaking and strengthening their community building capacity to improve community sustainability. Additionally, collaborators and community partners are planning to develop models and approaches that can increase community participation to be promoted and shared in similar communities.

In the fall of 2015, UKLA students enrolled in LA 324 Design Studio 4: Community Design and Engagement continued the sustainability effort and assisted NoLi in strengthening their leadership role; collaborating with partnerships; and engaging stakeholders by working on design projects reflecting the issues, needs, and visions of the youth in the North Limestone neighborhood. Students worked with NoLi CDC on North Limestone Public Spaces and Arts with a focus on youth voices. Students presented nine alternative public space and arts conceptual plans. They engaged with Fayette County Public School students and reflected youth ideas into the design proposals.

The design project emphasized the social sustainability of communities that eventually could and should influence the economic vitality and ecological integrity of the North Limestone neighborhood. UKLA facilitated a design workshop with students from the STEAM Academy who previously participated in the Radical Walks in the spring of 2015. Next, UKLA students prepared and presented preliminary public space and arts conceptual plan posters at the STEAM Academy where high school students from 8 classes provided feedback regarding likes, dislikes and further suggestions for UKLA students to consider for the final proposal. Ultimately, the UKLA students researched, analyzed, planned, designed, and presented reflective design suggestions for the North Limestone neighborhood during an 8-week project based on the ideas that community youth shared regarding the public spaces and arts in the North Limestone neighborhood. In the long-term, the UKLA design proposals will support the grass-roots efforts NoLi CDC is establishing in the north part of Lexington through NoLi’s Cultural Plan.

North Limestone Public Spaces and Arts: Youth Study

2015, Internship, 2 Students

The North Limestone (NoLi) Community Development Corporation (hereinafter as NoLi) is a neighborhood organization in Lexington, KY, that is actively working on improving the lives of its community members. In Fall 2014, NoLi partnered with the UK Departments of Landscape Architecture (UKLA) and Community and Leadership Development (UK CLD) along with the Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) that are within the physical boundary of the North Limestone area and applied to the inaugural UK Sustainability Challenge Grant Program. The collaborative project was awarded $17,350 to facilitate the initiation of a genuine community-generated vision for the neighborhood’s public spaces and cultural future. This effort also leveraged NoLi’s Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to create a community informed master plan for the cultural development of the North Limestone Corridor. The collaborative community-based partnership structured and provided resources and tools for community leaders in the North Limestone neighborhood in their efforts for creative placemaking which is a nationally recognized approach that leverages the creativity of people from various backgrounds and income levels to create vibrant places that people value. The North Limestone area has two parks, several murals that were designed by a variety of artists and a monthly neighborhood street festival (Night Market).

Radical Walking,” a form of community asset and needs assessment, was formalized as a program and tool where youth in the North Limestone area were invited to participate in the project. FCPS believed that the collaboration would allow for building democracy with students while also stimulating creative thinking. During the spring of 2015, two UK landscape architecture student interns supported Radical Walking activities and public space and arts survey activities after the North Limestone youth and students went on walks with their teachers along North Limestone to the Lexington Art League in Castlewood Park. Through the Radical Walks, youth were able to voice what they observed, sensed and thought regarding the public spaces and arts in the North Limestone neighborhood. Youth were empowered to express and represent dreams that can become creative outcomes through filling out surveys, engaging in mapping activities, and posting prioritized comments on posters. Youth voiced what concerned them and what they would like changed or improved as well as their vision for the neighborhood built environment. The different types of activities for individuals (surveys) and groups (mapping and sticky notes) also gave youth the opportunity to learn about what their peers’ thought.

Simultaneously, in Spring 2015, one student worked on an independent study project which was located in the North Limestone neighborhood in Lexington, KY. The student submitted a project proposal that outlined the goals, objectives, and deliverables to conduct a physical assessment of the North Limestone corridor which contributes to the Cultural Plan being developed by the North Limestone Community Development Corporation. Ultimately, the project scope expanded from an assessment to a design proposal for Art Rehabilitation. The student submitted the project titled Art Rehabilitation in the Urban Landscape: North Limestone Corridor to the 2015 ASLA Student Award competition.

rendering of gardens

Morgan County GoGarden! Community Garden Design Project

2015, Internship, 2 Students

During the winter and summer months of 2015, UKLA/CEDIK’s Community Design Program facilitated and collaborated with the GoGarden Coalition, headed by the Agriculture and Natural Resource (ANR) Extension Agent in Morgan County, on their GoGarden grant project to develop a community garden that would complement a commercial kitchen and demonstration garden. The project was funded with a $28,500 grant from the Bluegrass Community Foundation to achieve healthy nutritional and educational goals for the community. The garden site is located in a section of the newly relocated and built educational center/extension office property developed after a tornado ripped through town the previous year. The garden is adjacent to the potential commercial kitchen and the site was studied for suitability of development as a community garden and resting/gathering space. The garden will serve as a place for education and production with the purpose to assist in improving the health and quality of life for Morgan County’s residents. The garden was planned to support extension agents in delivering educational programs to residents in the county while also providing a community gathering place.

The volunteer steering committee members, representing a range of organizations, participated in a design workshop and provided feedback for the final plan. The Family and Consumer Science (FCS) Extension Agent also collaborated on the project for the community garden plan and design that volunteers can implement. Two undergraduate students were hired through the Department of Landscape Architecture (UKLA) to organize and lead the workshop and feedback session as part of their practical training. The design team provided the community group with a community garden design along with one alternative design for a specific section of the garden. The community work group implemented the garden design which was dedicated in Fall 2016. Overall, the community gained insight about the design process and were educated about the planning and spatial layout of gardens in general, with a special focus on the needs of a commercial kitchen garden. In addition, the project provides a restful gathering space for residents and visitors while also furthering environmental education and awareness.

Bullitt County Greenway: Envisioning the Future of Connectivity

2014, 16 Weeks, 18 Students

A volunteer community group, Concerned Families of Bullitt County, reached out to the UKLA/CEDIK community design program in Spring 2014 for assistance to plan a trail segment in the central part of Bullitt County. The request was to perform a trail study and propose alternative trail route scenarios that would connect Floyd’s Fork and the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. The community group persuaded the Bullitt County Fiscal Court to fund the trail research study. The funds were used to hire four undergraduate students from the Departments of Landscape Architecture (LA) and Natural Resources and Environmental Science (NRES). The students performed a suitability analysis as part of their summer internship and practical training. The design team completed the data-driven analysis and recommended six alternative routes to the community group and fiscal court in Spring 2015.

The collaboration continued throughout 2014 with a countywide community design service-learning project. During Fall 2014, senior students enrolled in a combined studio (LA 324/426) in the Department of Landscape Architecture worked on a countywide Greenway System project which addressed conservation, recreation, and alternative transportation goals, among others. In September 2014, the students facilitated a workshop in Bullitt County at the local cooperative extension office. The students led community leaders through four design activities: SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis; Goals and Objectives; Bubble Diagrams; and Preliminary Concepts. The Bullitt County Agriculture and Natural Resource (ANR) Extension Agent shared the history and other information about the county with the students. Through the service-learning project, the landscape architecture students prepared and delivered six Greenway System design recommendations to the community in December 2014. The Bullitt County Planning Commission reflected on the proposals and selected some of the preliminary ideas for inclusion in the county’s Comprehensive Plan Update in December 2014. The community partner acquired additional funding from an external organization soon after the service-learning project’s completion and participants are continuing discussions on implementing trails and the greenway.

Gateway to the Gap: Connecting Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and Middlesboro via the Boone Trace

2014, 16 Weeks, 14 Students

In Spring 2014, LA 975 partnered with Discover Downtown Middlesboro, Inc. (DDM) and the National Park Service (NPS) to provide technical assistance for a trail system in Middlesboro, KY, in Bell County through the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA). Fourteen undergraduate students from the Department of Landscape Architecture (UKLA) in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment provided planning and design services to the Middlesboro community. Project goals were not only to enhance the city’s built environment but also lay out a foundation to improve tourism related activities such as planning a trail system that would connect the core of their downtown and the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. CEDIK has worked with DDM since December 2013 and the UKLA students conducted their work between January and April 2014. A total of 40 stakeholders participated in 3 meetings during the community and student engagement process during which time community members shared knowledge and visions of their town with the students. Reflecting the service-learning pedagogy, the students were encouraged to utilize their enhanced visual communication skills to effectively present planning/design solutions to the clients-community members and the public.  The UKLA student designers prepared plans and designs that not only reflected community ideas but also incorporated current design trends as well as technical design standards into the trail system throughout the community design process.

As an outcome of the community engagement and design process, the community was able to visualize their ideas, visions and needs to improve Middlesboro’s physical landscape. The students gained experience by working on a real project, listening to and interacting with community-clients, and then communicating their ideas through visualization. As a result, DDM and stakeholders from surrounding counties in 3 states have started to meet and discuss the potential for a regional trail system. The tri-state/county communication and relationship building opportunity is utilizing the work that Extension and the UKLA students prepared by displaying project posters at regional meetings.

In the short-term, ideas from the students’ trail system plan will facilitate improvements to the part of the trail which already exists. The City of Middlesboro is in the process of applying for a Trail Town designation through the Office of Adventure Tourism’s Kentucky Trail Town Program. When designated, the city will be able to further promote recreational opportunities that exist in and around the city and county on a statewide and even regional level. Furthermore, DDM received a Levitt Foundation AMT grant for a 10-week music series event in 2015. In the intermediate, the community partner will be applying for grants that are relevant to enhancing their built environment. In the long-term, the City of Middlesboro should be able to successfully pursue economic development opportunities through tourism activities which will eventually improve the quality of life for its residents and the region.

Contact Information

Christopher K. Sass, Ph. D.
Associate Professor and Chair

S305 Agriculture Science Building 1100 S. Limestone Lexington, KY 40546-0091

+1 (859) 257-7295