BUCKNER, Ky. (April 2004) Imagine Oldham County as you would
like it to be in 20 years. How would it be different? What would it
look like? What would people be doing here?
The answers to these and other questions will guide over the coming
weeks the senior project of fifth-year landscape architecture students
from the University of Kentucky. Each year, as a final requirement
for graduation, the students select a county or an area in the commonwealth
for a semester long study and large-scale planning project. In January,
the students selected Oldham County and asked local government officials
student Jonathan Perkins at work on the Oldham County project.
"We had a limited time in which to say yes, so we decided to
say yes immediately," Judge-Executive Mary Ellen Kinser told
approximately 45 community members who gathered at the Oldham County
Community Center on Feb. 12 for the first of three public meetings.
Kinser thanked the students for showing an interest in the county.
"We're so glad that they made (Oldham County) their project for
the semester," she said.
About 20 UK students and three professors, Horst Schach, Brian Lee
and Stephen Austin, also attended the meeting, where information was
shared and community input gathered.
Landscape architects do more than just plant trees and bushes, said
student and project manager Steve Allen. Designing urban communities,
plazas, university campuses, commercial and industrial sites and residential
communities are all areas in which landscape architects concentrate
Following an overview of the project presented by Allen and other
students, meeting attendees were asked for their ideas. "The
most important thing they can do tonight is hear from you all,"
said adjunct professor Stephen Austin. Austin, also the president
and CEO of Bluegrass Tomorrow, a central Kentucky regional planning
group based in Lexington, introduced Dr. Lori Garkovich, who facilitated
the meeting by asking open-ended questions.
"This is about imagining the possibilities, so we should not
allow ourselves to be constrained by what is," said Garkovich,
a member of UK's College of Agriculture Department of Community Leadership
Those who showed up for the meeting were not short on opinions, about
both the things they liked and the things they would change in the
Excellent schools, proximity to Louisville, scenic highways, rural
beauty and landmarks such as Yew Dell Gardens and Duncan Memorial
Chapel were some community strengths and assets cited.
Riverfront development, preservation of green space, better roadways,
additional recreational facilities, planned growth, and economic development
were among reoccurring issues of concern.
Following the first public meeting, students visited Oldham County
for a weekend trip during which they gathered more information from
county "stakeholders," according to professor Brian Lee.
The students returned for a second public meeting March 25 to present
their findings and again get suggestions. Areas presented for project
consideration included downtown La Grange, Pewee Valley and the riverfront
in Westport. The purpose of the meeting was to determine which ideas
seemed most worth pursuing based on responses from the public, said
Lee. Tables featuring various topics were set up around the room where
attendees could speak with students and share their ideas. About 32
people attended the meeting.
The students' project will culminate on May 6 with a final public
meeting and presentation of a full-color project manual, complete
with pictures, graphs, charts, information and recommendations. "We'd
like to see more people there," said Lee.
UK's landscape architecture department implemented the senior studio
planning project about 16 years ago, according to professor Horst
Schach. Previous planning projects have included Elliott, Harlan and
Washington counties, central Kentucky's equine region, and the Land
Between the Lakes, he said.
In Washington County, where students completed a project last year,
community officials regularly use the manual, according to Schach.
Practical applications have included applying for grants, recruiting
businesses and planning, he said.
Oldham County may realize similar benefits, but "the priorities
are always different," said Schach.
UK's Landscape Architecture Program is a five-year program accredited
by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Students who successfully
complete the program go on to work in careers that include community
design, planning and historic preservation.