The Lexington-Fayette County Greenspace Commission was established by ordinance in 1990 as a citizen-based advisory group to the Urban County Government to incorporate into policy the preservation, management and enhancement of the County’s unique and special character for the economic, educational and general health, safety and welfare of the public. As defined in the Greenspace Plan prepared by the Commission, greenspace possesses the essential physical characteristics of our community that give the Bluegrass its special identity and quality of life.
Therefore, greenspace in Lexington-Fayette County encompasses more than the beautiful rural countryside and urban parks; it includes all of the Urban County’s natural, cultural, historic and visual resources that contribute to the Bluegrass identity. Greenspace includes the experience, in the city or countryside, from an automobile, bike or on foot, in a safe and pleasant atmosphere. The essential physical characteristics are qualities that citizens treasure and do not wish to lose as the community grows; or, for areas where these qualities are lacking, they could be transformed if properly guided. The greenspace system refers to all of these characteristics, that woven together, give a coherent identity that can be protected and experienced.
Examples of greenspace include:
- Rural cultural landscapes, including patterns of fields and pastures; houses and outbuildings; barns and fences; rural roads; rural settlements, etc.
- Farms, working lands
- Natural, undisturbed or re-vegetated natural areas and habitat
- Natural resource areas, including prime and soils of statewide significance, streams and floodplains, flora and fauna
- Forests, woods, tree stands, fencerows, riparian vegetation, significant trees, venerable trees
- Kentucky River and Palisades, urban and rural conservation greenways and other environmentally sensitive or geologic hazard areas
- Scenic rural roads and vistas
- Scenic urban streets such as boulevards and parkways
- Street trees and green medians
- Special Design Areas, Scenic Resource Areas (Expansion Area)
- Sports fields, golf courses
- Gardens, including community, ornamental, therapeutic; sculpture
- Cemeteries, arboretums
- School grounds, college campuses, church lawns, office parks
- Development patterns and structures that recall the County’s founding and history, including historic sites, districts and landscapes found in rural areas, traditional neighborhoods and downtown
- Some open spaces usable as greenspace, including landscaped plazas, courtyards, sidewalk furnishing zones; landscaping and public art, stormwater basins, reservoirs, amphitheaters and pavilions, rail and utility corridors, landscaped gateways and neighborhood entrances
How to become a greenspace commissioner
There are other LFUCG boards and commissions whose interest are for specific types of greenspace, such as the environment, parks, trees, history, corridors, bike/pedestrians and rural land. The Greenspace Commission advises LFUCG at the ‘big picture’ scale. An important task for the Commission is the updating of the community’s Comprehensive Plan every five years. Taking greenspace to a new level, the Greenspace Commission sponsored the Environment and Green Infrastructure chapter in the 2007 Comprehensive Plan. Green Infrastructure emphasizes that as infrastructure, greenspace is essential to the community’s prosperity and very existence. It is not an amenity; the ecological, community and economic services which natural resources and landscapes provide are key to achieving sustainability.
Because of the importance of greenspace protection for our economic well-being and quality of life, the sixteen appointed Commissioners are not just environmentalists and farmers; they also represent citizens in business, planning, development/design, and tourism who have a background or special knowledge about greenspace. The Commission has bylaws that govern rules about attendance; regular meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month. To keep informed about greenspace, guest speakers often attend meetings and there are occasional field trips. The Commission occasionally takes on projects, such the 2013 rural land use windshield survey, development of LFUCG’s community garden protocol and the 2016 Greenspace Survey.
To be a Greenspace Commissioner, one should:
- Possess a general knowledge of and personal interest in greenspace.
- Separate personal and professional interests to support the initiatives of the Commission in an unbiased manner.
- Use professional expertise to guide and advise Commission initiatives.
- Volunteer for and participate in committees/work groups to further Commission initiatives.
- Follow the bylaws, including the meeting attendance requirements.
- Advise community leaders on greenspace (this is done as a body, not an individual; and covered under duties above).
- Promote Commission initiatives to the community when the opportunity presents.