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It’s safe to say, Colonel Charles Young would have approved, Mayor Linda Gorton said.
“Charles Young Park now has a new playground, one of the biggest in the City,” said Gorton, who cut the ribbon to officially open the playground this afternoon. “This is a great place for children of all ages and all abilities.”
The new playground, which is roughly twice the size of the 18-year-old playground it replaces, was designed by neighborhood children. “Members of the Colonel Club, children who live in the East End Neighborhood, chose the play equipment,” Gorton said. “They strongly preferred equipment that allowed them to play with friends, and was accessible to everyone.”
Play equipment includes the first turf slide in Lexington, and the city’s first globe-shaped spinning climber, donated by the Kiwanis Club of Lexington. The playground also has face-to-face tandem swings, and a multi-user saucer swing.
Councilmember James Brown said, “Everything about this new playground says ‘Community’. From the advocacy of late neighborhood leader and Veteran Carl White; to the intentional outreach of our parks department; to the input and engagement of neighbors, children and the park advisory board; down to the contributions from community partners; and the listening and follow-through by the city and its contractors.”
The playground design has varying elevations and a natural edge of native limestone, donated by Vulcan Materials.
The city was careful not to disturb the open lawn in the park, which like the Charles Young Center is protected by its listing on the National Register of Historic Places, said Monica Conrad, Director of the Division of Parks and Recreation. In addition, all existing trees were saved.
The playground is one of several changes at Charles Young Park. Outdoor basketball courts have already been refurbished, and next comes Splash!, a water play feature. Town Branch Commons Trail will soon run alongside the park on Midland Avenue, making it easy to walk or cycle to the park.
Charles Young Center is also home to some new activity, hosting Work-Lexington, the City’s new workforce resource center.
“We’re bringing new life to Charles Young Park, and expanding services at the community center,” Gorton said. “Yes, Charles Young would definitely approve.”
Charles Young was born into slavery in Mays Lick in 1864. His family was freed after his father escaped to Ohio and joined the United States Colored Troops.
Charles Young was accepted into West Point and graduated in 1889, the third African American to do so. He was the first African-American to hold the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Army.